Relief groups – including thousands of nurses – from around the world have been responding to the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal on April 25, killing 8,000 people and injuring more than 23,000 others.
Emily Scott, BSN, RN, a labor and delivery nurse at Family Maternity Center at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Wash., shares her account in this article, as she travelled with Global Outreach Doctors to care for the injured victims. Global Outreach Doctors is a humanitarian organization of dedicated medical professionals providing international healthcare. The group's multidisciplinary team includes doctors, nurses, paramedics, naturopaths, homeopaths, acupuncturists and psychologists who deploy to disasters and provide global health medical services in developing countries.
Scott and her group partnered with a local organization called Global Karuna that sprung up in Kathmandu. Since medical care in the immediate Kathmandu area was under control, Scott's team reached out to remote villages that were still waiting for aid. They found their niche providing mobile clinics. They drove 4x4s out to a remote area each day and set up in an intact building or under a tarp, providing care to anyone who needed it, she details.
They treated ailments ranging from broken ribs to ringworm, but her favorite part of the mission was caring for pregnant women who arrived at the mobile clinic in Bhaktapur Gundu. Because Scott is a labor and delivery nurse, she brought along a portable fetal doppler heartbeat monitor.
"In the midst of so much sadness and destruction, it was such a joy to take a quiet moment with each mother to confirm that many new lives were still on the way. I handed out fistfuls of prenatal vitamins, provided plenty of education — with the help of translators — about when to head to the health center and what complications to watch out for," Scott wrote.
A team of nurses from Scripps Health in San Diego also treated thousands of earthquake victims in Nepal. Five members of the Scripps medical staff traveled to the Gorkha district of Nepal and teamed up with the International Medical Corps. Similar to Global Outreach, International Medical Corps brings physicians and nurses trained in emergency medicine together with specialists who provide an array of services ranging from psychosocial support to technical advice for nutrition, water, sanitation, and hygiene to those in need.
During their 21-day medical mission, they treated more than 2,200 patients who had fractures, lacerations and chronic illnesses.
There's no doubt nurses have a big impact on patient care, whether at the hospital bedside or out in the field. Have you ever been involved in a volunteer relief mission? Share your experiences in the comments section.