Callista O’Bryan, a nurse who works at Genesis Mountain View Center in Rutland, takes a set of vital signs at a triage station in Honduras.
Nurses from Vermont and New York were in high spirits as they returned home recently from a goodwill mission to Honduras.
After joining forces with Global Brigades, a health and development movement, the group of friends, students and colleagues braced themselves for several days of hard work and dedication as they traveled more than 2,000 miles to help people in dire need of medical attention.
The team of 21 nurses and other health professionals, known as NY/VT Unite, set out March 16 for Honduras with the goal of aiding as many individuals with medical concerns as possible.
Organizer and founder of the group, Amy Russell, who is also the assistant director of nursing at Genesis Mountain View Center in Rutland, spearheaded the mission. She said she has always felt the desire to help others and saw the mission as a great way to benefit those in need.
Russell has participated in several other goodwill missions in the past and said she finds them to be truly gratifying.
“I see the need,” she said.
During a span of four days the team spent 24 hours providing various health care services to more than 1,000 people.
From dressing fractures to educating children on the basics of health and hygiene practices, the team did it all.
“Anyone who came in the door, we helped,” Russell said.
For Russell the most rewarding part of the mission was simply seeing the reactions of her fellow group members, many whom were experiencing a volunteer trip for the first time.
“The looks on their faces were priceless,” she said.
Donna Jackson, a nurse manager at Genesis Mountain View Center, was one of the many first-timers on the mission.
During the trip she said she came to the realization that Americans are so lucky to have such an advanced degree of health care in this country.
“We take for granted our health care system,” Jackson said, adding that many of the patients during her time in Honduras walked more than two hours, and waited even longer, to receive services. Even then they had no complaints, she said.
“You could tell it meant the world to them,” she said. “They couldn’t thank us enough.”
Jackson has always been interested in doing a mission trip and was quick to join the team once word spread.
Though she said the experience was a lot of work, her interactions with locals made it more than worthwhile.
“It was such a rewarding and incredible experience,” she said.
Jackson encourages all health care professionals to take the time to give back and volunteer, whether it is in the United States or overseas.
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