Nurses brought their dedication and healthcare expertise to the Dominican Republic, and Mexico this summer, bringing NYSNA’s 2019 total of medical missions to seven.
In the Dominican Republic, eight nurses and a doctor travelled to the San Bartolo community in Santo Domingo and the village of San Gregorio de Nigua, located in the San Cristóbal province, to provide healthcare to underserved communities. Working side by side with host organization Asociación Nacional de Enfermería (ASONAEN), the National Association of Nurses, NYSNA members treated nearly 500 patients.
“We took care of patients from ages 0 to 90. We’ve seen some hypertensive emergencies, some hyperglycemic emergencies, and some primary care issues,” said Casey Smith, a registered nurse at Mt. Sinai. “It’s been very beautiful, and everyone has been welcoming and friendly.”
Rachael Omonywa, RN, also of Mt. Sinai agreed: “My experience was amazing. I have made new friends and met and been able to care for patients of different races and ages. I love it here.”
Caring for migrants
NYSNA volunteers were recognized and honored for their service with a plaque at an ASONAEN conference attended by hundreds of Dominican nurses. Members were able to learn about the ongoing struggles nurses face there—including staffing. At times, the nurse-to-patient ratio can reach as high as 1:130.
Fifteen-hundred miles to the west, a group of nine nurses witnessed firsthand the effects of the humanitarian crisis in Mexico as they travelled to the city of Ciudad Hidalgo, Suchiate, in the state of Chiapas. The city lies on the Suchiate River, which separates the country from Guatemala. The region is a frequent stop for migrants journeying to the Southern border of the United States.
Upon arrival, nurses were welcomed by a group of local volunteers who helped promote the mission. Over the course of three days, NYSNA volunteers provided much-needed healthcare services to nearly 600 patients—a mix of migrants and locals who came to be seen by and give thanks to the nurses who treated them during last year’s mission trip.
An educational delegation
In Cuba, a 19-person delegation of NYSNA members and other volunteers was received by officials at the Ministry of Health where they learned of the difficulties in providing healthcare in the country due to the U.S. embargo. During the educational sessions, nurses talked about staffing with hospital directors at Hospital Hermanos Ameijeiras, discussed curricula at the Lidia Doce Nursing School, and were received by Health Committee President Congresswoman Cristina Morales at the National Congress.
NYSNA nurses relished their experiences in the three countries and appreciated the opportunity to both give back and learn about other countries’ and caregivers’ approaches to care.
“This is an awesome experience,” said NYSNA Director Seth Dressekie, RN, of the NYC Human Resources Administration. “In the case of medical missions, the community is great, the people are grateful, and you’re giving back. It’s such an amazing feeling.”
“I would recommend medical missions for anyone who really is serious about helping and treating underdeveloped nations,” said first-time participant and nursing student Margaret Mobley. “The experience that you have is unbelievable.”