Posted By: Cherri Dobson on August 22, 2012

Labels: Liberia , Volunteers

Volunteers in Liberia

After wrapping up a busy week treating patients in Liberia at the heath fair sponsored by the U.S. Navy and the Liberian government, Project HOPE nurses Fran Bauer, Cathy Blair-Perrine, and I took advantage of one day "off" by visiting a local hospital and working side-by-side with the health care team there. We visited James N. Davies Jr. Memorial Hospital in Paynesville City, Liberia.  James N. Davies Jr. is a small hospital specializing mainly in women and children's health issues. 

Volunteer Nurse Cathy Blair-Perrine in Liberia

Cathy spent the day in the combined PICU-NICU and was immediately put to work!She was able to insert IVs, do dressing changes and gave multiple medications to critically ill children. She was amazed to find that one nurse is usually responsible for 20 or more patients in the intensive care setting. Cathy was able to do some teaching regarding thermoregulation of tiny infants and shared tips on workflow with her counterparts. "Today was a wonderful opportunity to exchange information, share ideas and build relationships with the Liberian nurses and doctors. It is amazing to see how they are able to care for these children with the small amount of supplies and equipment they have," she said.

Fran used her expertise to work in the recovery room and attend rounds on complicated postpartum patients. She helped take care of a 23-month old infant with severe burns who had just come from the operating room. She was impressed with the vigilance of the recovery room nurse, who did not have all the monitoring equipment available to U.S. nurses.Most impressive to Fran was the stoicism shown by patients having painful procedures performed without the benefit of pain medication. 

Having been in Liberia four years ago with Project HOPE, I was excited to visit another Liberian hospital and compare the care provided there. I spent my time at James N. Davies Jr. Memorial Hospital on the pediatric ward, where I saw a variety of patients, including many with malaria. There were also two rooms devoted entirely to pediatric burn patients.  What was most amazing to me was that there were defined clinical treatment protocols that were used to make sure that each child received appropriate care for his or her diagnosis. The physician's assistant who was coordinating their care was very compassionate, and took the time to teach the mothers about prevention before discharge. 

All-in-all, it was a very satisfying day for all three of us and we look forward to continuing the mission in Ghana in a few days.

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