Medical Missions Reach Thousands
Each year, medical personnel from local Providence ministries embark on medical missions to help people in countries that are much less fortunate than the United States. Teams regularly travel to Haiti and Belize, as well as Vietnam and Cambodia. Providence St. Peter Foundation and Providence Health International have helped make the work possible, offsetting some of the travel costs borne by the employees.
One group of Providence St. Peter Hospital employees has been returning to Belize most years since 2005. Ans van Uffelen, RN, nurse manager for the Intermediate and Progressive Care units says, “Each year, we travel to the St. Xavier Parish in Corozal, Belize, which serves 24 communities in the Corozal District.” This year’s medical mission began January 26 and served over 1,200 patients. Three St. Peter Hospital nurses, Ans van Uffelen, Angela Jones, and Aurdre Tucker, were participants of the 2012 Belize Medical Mission.
Ans says, “In our ten day trip, we visit the six parishes that need our help the most. Our visit has been announced several weeks in advance and patients are already lined up when we arrive.” People with many diverse diseases are seen: diabetes, hypertension, upper respiratory infections, asthma, skin diseases, ear and throat infections, and many others. This year’s mission cared for a village with a chicken pox outbreak and another village with a scabies outbreak.
Audre Tucker, RN, a Progressive Care Unit nurse who also traveled to Belize in January recalls, “I went on a house call to see an elderly gentleman that had second and third degree burns on his abdomen and both arms. He had no dressing supplies and was wrapping leaves around the burns on his arms to keep them covered. We gave him what little dressing supplies we had and some cream for the burns. The patient and family were so thankful for our care and the supplies we were able to give.”
Ans says she has a great appreciation for the people of Belize. “These missions remind me that mothers everywhere are the same: they just want the best for their children! There’s also a great appreciation for the elderly in Belize. They’re not written off like they can be here; they’re an integrated part of society.”
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