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Ecuador 2012

 

    
 

Students spent three weeks in Guayaquil, Ecuador working in a variety of hospitals, including pediatric, maternity and general hospitals. In addition, they partnered with Hogar de Cristo, a non-profit organization that assists poor populations outside the city. Students assisted in screening close to 1000 school-aged children for malnutrition and other health concerns. Students also taught classes and provided blood pressure and blood sugar screenings for local church members. Students then traveled to Otavalo for a week where they partnered with Charity Anywhere, where they conducted additional health screenings and taught.They also visited Tena, Ecuador.  




Student Reflections:


 "The cultural experience that affected me the most was seeing the traditional healing methods in Otavalo, Ecuador. In the maternity floor of the hospital they had combined some aspects of Westernized medicine with the traditional childbearing methods. It was good to see that in spite of many years of prejudice towards the indigenous people of Ecuador, there was much progress being made in the way of culturally sensitive health care. For years the indigenous people refused to deliver their babies in the hospital due to a lack of accessibility, racism, and intolerance for their beliefs. This caused a massive health disparity in maternal mortality rates. Fortunately, much progress has been made in the last few years to address these many factors.  For example, culturally appropriate birthing centers are available in the hospital, and women are given the option of how they want to deliver their child. Many efforts are being made to bridge the gap of misunderstanding and embrace differences between two very distinct cultures.  As a prospective public health nurse, this has influenced me by showing the great importance of culturally appropriate care.  Since this change there have been only two maternal deaths at the hospital and those were due to abuse. 

"I have come to see health care less like an assortment of strictly uniformed procedures and more like the bartering system in the Otavalo market.  In order to yield maximum results both parties must learn to compromise.   As doctors and nurses we have to pick our battles.  We must allow people the opportunity to receive their preferred traditional methods in a hospital where Western medicine is the backup plan.  This is far better than individuals not coming into the hospital at all."     -- Ryan

"While I was in Ecuador I was able to visit the labor and delivery hospital, Sotomayor. The experience that I had there was unforgettable, and I know that it will impact my nursing career and how I treat my patients forever. I first need to make a point that this hospital is doing really well for the resources and staff that it has, but the ratio of nurses and doctors to patients is unlike anything I have ever seen in the states. With so many patients and so few staff, the laboring women who come to this hospital often find themselves all alone though others surround them who are also in the same situation. 
When I arrived on the labor and delivery unit, I was immediately able to accompany a young woman who was fully dilated and ready to give birth to her second child. Family members are not allowed to accompany these women, and the nurses on the floor have several patients that care for. As a result I was able to hold her hand and talk to her to tell her what was going on while she gave birth. I know that it wasn’t much; but I know that it made a difference to her and it impacted my life as well. 
During this experience I thought of the Savior and the love that He has for each and every one of us, no matter where we are from or what language we speak.  I also thought of the Healer’s touch that He possesses and how He gives us the opportunity to act in His name and give that touch and that love to others during our lifetime. 
I know that as a nurse I have the responsibility to give love to my patients and to serve them as the Savior would.  As important as it was that I was able to touch the life of this young woman in Ecuador, even more important is the way in which she touched mine by helping me feel of the Savior’s love for her.  Never again will I take for granted the power of a soft word and a gentle touch.  And as I begin my work as a nurse here in the states I will always remember the importance of treating the one and making a difference it the lives of each patient I care for. "     -- Angela



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