Student Nurses Vow to Return to Haiti "With Changes"

A visit to Ryder Trauma Center and Jackson were on the group's agenda in Miami

By Diana Gonzalez
|  Thursday, Jun 30, 2011  |  Updated 10:11 AM EDT
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Haiti Nurses Visit JMH

Jackson Health System

21 visiting nursing students from Universite Notre Dame d’Haiti in Port-au-Prince were in Miami for a first-hand look at Jackson's health care system.

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Haiti Nurses Visit JMH

Haitian nursing students learn medical skills at JMH to take back to Haiti.
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Wearing traditional nurse's uniforms and hats, 21 visiting nursing students from Universite Notre Dame d’Haiti in Port-au-Prince -- so severely damaged in the earthquake that classes are held  in tents -- were in Miami for a first-hand look at Jackson's health care system.

Among those killed in the earthquake were 10 student nurses who would have been travelling with the group. In fact, their trip was originally planned for February. 

But for the survivors, this visit -- which was sponsored by Broward residents and Haitian twin sisters Gina and Ginette Eugene -- allowed them to "come here to witness what caring is really about," the sisters said.

The young women speak no English,  but know all the lyrics to God Bless America, and sang it beautifully Monday, when they spent the morning touring different areas of the hospital, including Ryder Trauma Center, where the air rescue helicopter happened to bring in a patient while the group was there. Tomorrow, they'll be observing patient care at Jackson North.

Until now, these students had never seen medical equipment and instruments like this. A graduate nurse accompanying the group said they were most impressed with the hygiene and sanitation.

“Many times we use whatever we have. Sometimes we don't even have cotton balls. We use soap and water,“ RN Hermelande Gardere, said about hospital conditions in Haiti.
 

Soon after the earthquake on January 12th, doctors and nurses who work at Jackson flew to Haiti to volunteer. 

“Since the earthquake, I have been to Haiti four times to lend a hand,” said nurse practitioner Idiane Medacier, who was the first vice president of the Haitian-American Nurses Association.

Meanwhile, criticism is mounting over a U.S. pledge to give Haiti $1.5 billion for rebuilding, because none of the money has arrived there yet.  But when this group returns, they hope to make an impact .

"We are going back with modifications and changes to our healthcare system," vowed nurse Gardere.

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