a Jungle Out There
senior nursing students studied for a month in Australia last
May. But in many ways, the hospital in
rural Honduras where she and three classmates worked for 21/2 weeks
during winter break was much, much farther away.
18 days, their field training took them from birth to death.
standard medications and scrubbed in for surgery.
They taught children to use a toothbrush and adults to resuscitate
a baby. Their patients ranged from a lobster diver with the bends
(decompression sickness) to a woman dying of AIDS.
Spencer, Sara Walkiewicz, Jennifer Wagner, and Allen Smith III,
of the first class that will graduate from St.
Luke’s Hospital Commemorative School of Nursing at Moravian
College in May. And, as the school’s first seniors, they
were the pilot group for Nursing 320, “Nursing of Populations
at High Risk for Health Problems,” which offers international
placement as part of the course experience.
after studying intensive Spanish, they went to Ahuas, Honduras,
Moravian Board of World Mission has maintained a
mission since 1930 and a hospital since 1940. Accompanying
Marianne Adam, assistant professor of nursing; her husband,
principal of the Berks Career and Technology Center in Oley;
and their children, Taylor, 9, and Jared, who celebrated
his 6th birthday
(Ah-wass) is a tiny town of 2,000 souls on the Rio Patuco in
the northeast section of the country, which is
the Mosquito Coast. It has neither
more nor fewer mosquitoes than anywhere else in this Central American
nation; the name comes from the indigenous Miskito Indians, who
are most of the
patients at the Hospital Evangélico Moravo.
to an online U.S. government fact-book, Honduras is one
of the poorest countries in the world; and the nursing
students found ample confirmation
this everywhere. The complex was dotted with cisterns to collect rainwater,
which is used for showering. Some of the medicines they found in a
storeroom were outdated,
but sometimes in emergencies they were all that were to be had.
one out of three or four autoclaves [which sterilize instruments
used in high-risk diseases such as AIDS] really worked,” Lauren
they use chemicals to clean the instruments.” Chemical sterilization
is a practice used less frequently in the United States.
“Nothing is thrown away,” Allen said. “We take so much for
granted in the U.S. We throw everything in the trash [after one use]. There they
gloves, needles, hearing aids. They’re cleaned and sterilized
and used again.”
“It really makes you appreciate what you have here,” Jen Wagner said, “when
you watch them recapping needles and reusing them. We didn’t
want to be rude and say, ‘Don’t do that.’ ” Marianne
Adam, the supervising professor, emphasized that needles used on
HIV-positive patients were never reused.