Arlene is an experienced volunteer nurse. She has traveled to Romania on several mission trips and she also volunteers at home in a free clinic.
“This year I was able to go on a 12 day mission trip to Cochabama, Bolivia through the sponsorship of Solidarity Bridge with financial assistance provided through a $1000 scholarship from One Nurse At A Time organization.
Our group was composed of 3 gynecology surgeons, 2 nurses from Central DuPage Hospital, one anesthesiologist, a chaplain and two Spanish interpreters.
We left Chicago O’Hare on Wednesday, September 23rd at 2PM and flew first to Miami and then on to LaPaz, Bolivia arriving on September 24th at 12 noon: Arriving in LaPaz we found that many of us needed supplemental oxygen to be able to breathe because of the high altitude (16,000 ft). Happily, we only stayed in LaPaz for an hour and then flew on to Cochabama ( a one hour trip by plane) which was our main place to work. After settling in at a local hotel we got organized for our main work which was providing free surgery at the local hospital for pre-selected women who needed some type of gynecological surgery (either hysterectomy, bladder tape, or bladder/rectal repair). These were women who could not afford surgery. We provided the surgical personnel and surgical supplies as well as all the pain medications and antibiotics. Prescriptions were written by us and medications were given free to the patients selected.
We started each day at 0700 and worked Monday thru Saturday until 5PM. I was responsible for starting IV’s, administering preoperative antibiotics and then writing orders for post operative IV analgesics and anti inflammatories as well as providing recovery room care.
Most of the surgical patients we saw received spinal anesthetic (which was cheaper by far than general anesthetic and the patient recovered faster too). Those providing the spinals also did so without cost. The recovery room was a mix of new C-section moms with their babies lying beside them and my patients. At times there were 6-8 patients on carts in that little 8 X 8 ft room. The recovery room had no vital sign monitoring. Sometimes the patients were just lying on carts in the hall with no one really watching them. Families would come and assist taking their loved one to a room in the hospital. All patients stayed less than 24 hours.
We started each day at 0630 with a ½ hour of “reflection” which included a reading such as from St Francis of Assisi or some other great person (only one from the Bible and that was when I led the meditation that morning) and a time of meditation and prayer. We would then go for breakfast in the hotel which consisted of varieties of fresh fruit, yogurt, bread, and coca tea.
The difference between the haves and the have-nots is very evident in Bolivia . There were Mom’s begging on the streets. In fact we saw one nursing her 2 year old child! There is a lot of physical abuse to women in Bolivia. Some women work in cooperatives to earn money. They bring their babies with them on their backs in a special type of blanket.
Would I go back to Bolivia? Most definitely! Being able to touch the lives of these women was a special blessing to me. They had receive a gift of healing from maladies that had affected their personal lives–and wasn’t that what Jesus provided during His life on this earth?! Who knows how God blessed our efforts to touch the lives of these women.
I would not have been able to go on this medical mission were it not for the scholarship provided by One Nurse At A Time. I am so thankful to God for providing the money needed. I am certain God will bless your organization for providing funds to serve this mission trip. So I say “THANK YOU”!”