York College Nursing Students Learn Service in Haiti

For the sixth consecutive year, York College Nursing students have taken time out of their summer to volunteer their burgeoning healthcare skills in Haiti.

Nursing Students at York College for the Sixth Consecutive Year Volunteering in Haiti for the Summer of 2018In Haiti, the students work alongside healthcare professionals for the service learning experience they will never forget. They get on-the-ground experience in providing care and education to an underserved, under-resourced population,” said Dr. Margarett Alexandre, York College faculty mentor who organizes and supervises the annual study abroad experience with students.

Dr. Alexandre’s students do basic nursing care for children and adults at the Centre de Sante de Carries. It is one of the few-free healthcare facilities in the area. The clinic is funded by various faith-based missionaries and organizations. This year’s group of eight nursing students from the class, Nursing 450, once again participated in hands-on care and preventive training to residents visiting the clinic.

It included hand hygiene to prevent transmission of disease, high blood pressure, and self-breast exam. At the elementary school, they provided education on dental care and male and female hygiene. The York Nursing group, which was in Haiti from June 9th to the 17th, distributed dental and hygiene kits to the students; and spent time with groups on opposite sides of the age and health spectrum.

They also enjoyed volunteering at the local orphanage – including playtime with the children; and worked on arts and crafts. They also had the opportunity to work with the nannies at the orphanage; and provided post-stroke care training to the care providers at the senior home.”

 But it wasn’t all work and no fun for the dedicated trainees. These nursing students made time to immerse themselves in the Haitian culture and got to know the people, sites and especially the delicious cuisine for which Haiti is known.

The students who participated were Christine Bastien, Desiree Chase, Mavis Frimpong, Brittany Fullerton, Aerren Kublal, Philip Mangey, Darien Trinh and Allysha Veeria, along with their faculty member, Dr. Margarett Alexandre, whose dissertation was, “The Lived Experience of Traumatic Amputation for Haitian Adults.”

 “The Haiti trip has helped greatly in solidifying the instructional and informational teaching of the York College Nursing Program,” says Philip Mangey. “It was a very practical experience on how to navigate the spectrum of the different socio-economic statuses as well as cultural diversity in action all within a foreign language.”

 Mangey added that the experience has prepared him “to be able to function within the healthcare arena of New York City."

 “Queens has been described as the most culturally diverse place on the planet and as such, we need to be culturally competent to provide effective services,” he further explained. “Haiti has helped to make things clearer for me; that health care is a simple need and there is no reason to take a simple process and make it complex.”

Indeed, Mangey found so much value in the experience, it has transformed his thinking.

 “I plan on using this experience as foundational knowledge on how I pursue Nursing in the US and most importantly, it has birthed a great desire for foreign healthcare need,” he says. “It may not resonate well with most people if I say I will focus on foreign nations but in reality with the growth of commerce and technology the world has become a small global village. We have to be cognizant of our neighbors’ need and able to meet them timely because this safeguards our health and security in the US.”

Christine Bastien was equally moved by the experience.

“My expectations of Haiti were met and surpassed,” she says. “I have found my motivation and have seen where possibilities can lead. I have seen how a welcoming community can impact someone and create this opportunity for mutual progress.”

Allysha Veeria also discussed the import of the trip not only for its healthcare value but for helping a new language skill as well.

 "Haiti and the residents taught me an abundance of knowledge from the moment I landed,” says Veeria, president of York’s Nursing Club. “I’ve learned a decent amount of a new language --Creole. It was easy to pick up because everyone around us spoke it, and I could communicate on a basic level with them. This new skill-set I’ve obtained can be expanded on and will be able to assist me in my nursing career if I have to communicate with patients or medical professionals who speak Creole."

Veeria says her “take away from the trip" is a newfound appreciation for humanity and the nursing profession.

“It is how you treat someone during their darkest times that set the benchmark,” mark she says. “As nurses, every day we work to raise that benchmark. In Haiti, we came in with our set standards and they had their set expectations from us. In my opinion, our team exceeded both the benchmarks we’ve set and their expectations of us. When you have a great team and a great team leader, anything can be done.”