Four student nurses and a faculty member provided healthcare to more than 400 hundred Burmese patients in Myanmar, the site of one of the world’s deadliest tropical cyclones, according to a May 26 news release from the Denver School of Nursing.
“DSN students Alyssa Benjamin, Daya Bhakta, Lauren Bliel and Jill Lysengen were accompanied by Julie Lohre, DSN adjunct faculty and nurse practitioner,” the press release stated. “Together, they also reviewed oral healthcare with and gave free toothbrushes to the Burmese; adults chew a tree root mixed with tobacco and give children candy at bedtime which deteriorates the health of their gums and tooth enamel.”
The students spent six days helping patients, some of whom had never seen a healthcare provider before.
“We focused on acute major illnesses, which included treating people suffering from chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension,” Lohre said in the release.
“We treated people for dehydration, musculoskeletal and respiratory disorders,” Lohre said. “Others we referred to the closest local hospital for disease education and physician referral. Students prepared interactive presentations for the villagers. Helped by translators, our education focused on hygiene and the importance of proper handwashing. We taught them about the ease of solar disinfection of water, where heat and UV rays kill 90% of disease-causing pathogens. And, because of the intense heat and humidity of their climate, we emphasized the necessities of rehydration and the maintenance of hydration during their long working days.”
According to the website of the International Medical Relief organization, which the DSN program teamed with to provide care, “Cyclone Nargis was one of the deadliest tropical cyclones worldwide on record where 84,500 people were killed and 53,800 went missing.”
The IMR website stated “the UN estimates that as many as 2.4 million people were affected. IMR sent in our first team within two weeks of the cyclone and they were able to work in the devastated area of the Ayeyarwady Delta region,” which saw great devastation. “IMR also helped hundreds of patients in townships near and around Yangon affected by the cyclone,” according to the website.
The volunteers, which included a Singapore nurse and general surgeon from Nepal, assessed and educated about 100 people per day over the six-day clinical tour. “IMR treats underserved patients with dramatic and often life-saving results by providing medical services, medicines, supplies, training and education to communities throughout the world,” according to its website. “Medical missions begin with team members’ introduction to community leaders and members, and move through pre-arranged logistics to community hospitals, clinics, and health posts.”
Upcoming IMR trips include Tanzania, Brazil and the Philippines. “The cost of a trip varies depending on the location and time of year of travel,” the website stated. “As an example, South and Central America average $2,700–$3,000 while Asia and Africa average $3,200-$3,600.”
The Denver School of Nursing Global Health Perspectives is a cross-cultural, inclusive outreach program for undergraduate students that is focused on student development in global health settings in Denver and around the world, according to the DSN website. “GHP combines classroom training with in-field service-learning internships and is integrated throughout the Denver School of Nursing curriculum path,” the site stated. “Students are invited to participate in GHP from their first quarter of enrollment, through their coursework and even as DSN alumni.”
Among other trips, DSN GHP students have traveled to Peruvian villages to train lay midwives in resuscitating newborns.
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