Hospice Nurse Cares for Patients in Haiti

Magdalena Stefanek, February 05, 2018

Volunteer experience reaffirmed why she chose
nursing as her life’s work.

Pam Waickus-Dryier, RN, case manager for Rainbow Hospice and Palliative Care, recently traveled to a Caribbean island. But rather than relaxing in a resort, she spent a week caring for patients in an underserved community.

In late January 2018, Pam traveled to Jerusalem, Haiti, with “Community Empowerment – Global Health Partnerships,” an organization that provides rotating primary, orthopedic, and surgical care to communities in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. These communities continue to face infrastructural issues from the earthquake of 2010 that affect their water supply, housing, and health outcomes.

The group of eleven doctors, physician assistants, nurses, and a dentist stationed in an orphanage, where they created a makeshift clinic to replace the one that had been shut down. There they saw more than 630 patients, beginning their days at 8:00 a.m. and not stopping until every person who had been waiting in the heat had been seen.

Some cases were emergent, such as the 4-year-old suffering a small bowel obstruction with intussusception and the 24-year-old newly-delivered mom who was in congestive heart failure. Others needed follow-up and medication.

Pam bonded in particular with one young girl who would watch her every day after school. The two quickly became friends, teaching each other bits of Creole and English. Pam’s departure at the end of the week was tearful for both.

“This venture truly solidified why I chose nursing as my life’s work,” Pam said. She is already planning her next trip back.