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New Jersey Nurses Provide International Healthcare

Nurses from New Jersey volunteer their time and services, and in most cases, pay for their own travel, to deliver nursing care to patients around the world.

Kathleen Burke, RN, PhD, professor and assistant dean of nursing programs at Ramapo College of New Jersey in Mahwah, has traveled with undergraduate nursing students and faculty to war-torn Sierra Leone during the past five years. With Sa Leone Health Pride founder Florence Dorwie, RN, DNP, they care for and educate patients, families, students, nursing sisters and RNs to take charge of their own healthcare.

“It is all about enabling the people of Sierra Leone to help themselves,” Burke said. “With a focus on newborn and maternal child health, we initially helped the Sierra Leoneans with basic needs like proper hand-washing and clamping the newborn’s cord after birth, rather than wrapping it around the infant. Now we do nutritional and malaria education, for example, helping the people understand the need for adding fish or potato leaves to their diet and making sure the whole family has netting to sleep, rather than just the father.”

Nursing faculty and students from Ramapo work with staff from Connaught Hospital on the ward that was adoped by Ramapo College of Nursing.

Deborah Neufville, RN, APN, nurse practitioner at The Leslie Simon Breast Care Center at Englewood (N.J.) Hospital and Medical Center, spent two separate weeks in Haiti last year with the Arise and Walk Ministries Foundation. With teams of 14 or more, Neufville delivered nursing care to more than 20,000 people who flooded the Grace Village community after the earthquake.

“We spent most of our time seeing people who had never been treated for diabetes and hypertension or other conditions like goiter and ascites,” Neufville said.

Deborah Neufville, RN, cares for an elderly patient in Haiti, who receives medical care for the first time, four months after the earthquake.

Through education, the people know to keep tents off the ground and build trenches so the dirty water flows away from living areas. They’ve learned that cholera is not brought by the volunteers and that they are capable of working to rebuild their country.

In November, Lisa Saporito, RN, ED staff nurse at Chilton Hospital in Pompton Plains, N.J., traveled to Central America, where she and seven members of her church helped drill a 170-foot-deep well to provide clean water to the people of Valle Nuevo village in Acajutla, El Salvador. “Working with a El Salvadorean team from Living Water International, a worldwide organization, we went from nothing to a working well by the end of the week,” she said.

Laura Finaldi, Ramapo nursing student, works at a health fair in Bo during her mission trip to Sierra Leone.

When Saporito left, she knew that another team was coming the next week. “We could see the wells that already had been built, and it was a great feeling to know that other teams were coming to build more wells,” Saporito said.

Because Burke, faculty and students travel with Dorwie twice a year for almost three weeks to Sierra Leone, they have seen improvements in healthcare over five years. The country has begun to pull itself together, Burke said. Children are not roaming the streets and are required to attend school. This year healthcare is free for mothers, pregnant women and children. Electricity and water are available at the main hospital in the capital, and a nurse’s salary has gone from $50 to $200 a month.

Lisa Saporito, RN, pumps clean water from the newly drilled well in Acujutla, El Salvador.

“We offer medical clinics, health fairs and educational conferences every time we are there,” Burke said. “We now have a partnership with the University of Sierra Leone nursing program because we want to help improve the students’ education.” The Sa Leone Health Pride organization donated a library, computer and nursing labs, and adopted the “Ramapo Ward” at Connaught Hospital, where they help nurses improve their practice, and donate equipment and supplies from New Jersey hospitals.


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By | 2020-04-15T12:57:53-04:00 February 7th, 2011|Categories: New York/New Jersey Metro, Regional|0 Comments

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