Saturday, 30 January 2010

U-M Flint nursing students pledge to help Cambodian orphans receive essential health care

via CAAI News Media

By Beata Mostafavi
Flint Journal
January 29, 2010

Hollyn Johnson | The Flint JournalUM-Flint nursing student Doni Warner will lead 10 students on a trip to Cambodia in mid-May to administer basic medical care.

FLINT — Doni Warner knew the name of the surgeon leading the open heart surgery on his five-month-old son — but he really got to know the nurses.

They were the ones who offered him and wife Jody blankets on nights they slept in waiting rooms, brought them water and were “translators” when doctor lingo was a little too much.

It’s part of what inspired the former construction business owner to pursue a nursing degree at the University of Michigan-Flint — and why he is joining a trip to Cambodia that will involve medical care for orphans.

“There are numerous diseases that you can get treated for in the United States,” said Warner, 41, who is raising money to pay for the $3,000-plus venture in May. “Kids are dying from things over there that we can get everyday care for here.”

Warner is among a group of about 10 UM-Flint students who are leaving for the 14-day trip. Some students such as Warner also plan to stay longer on their own to continue work in orphanages.

Overseas, they will give children physicals and follow up with those who need medical attention. They will help with IVs and monitor vital signs for malaria patients.

They will help village children who have puncture wounds on their feet from collecting reusable items from a nearby dump barefoot.

Some will also spent time teaching children English and help teach them basic care for themselves — such as washing their face and brushing their teeth.

“It just goes back to wanting to help somebody in the world ... and the people in Cambodia have a desperate need for health care,” said Warner, a father of four.

“It seems a little better calling than building houses,” he added of future plans to work in the health care field, possibly on a global level.

Fellow nursing student Kevin Fitzpatrick will help with the relief effort.

For UM-Flint nursing student Kevin Fitzpatrick, the Cambodia trip adds to a list of service work — including volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, boarding up abandoned homes and traveling to Iowa with his church to help with relief efforts after the massive floods in 2008.

“Just the little bit we can do in the short time we’re there I hope helps brighten their day,” said the Swartz Creek father of two, 35. “We aren’t there to save the world but to make a difference.

We take so much for granted here. Hopefully we will impact them as much as they will impact us.”

The trip is coordinated through UM-Flint’s international nursing program, which earns students three credits.

Students will spend long hours working with people in need but will also get some free time and a chance to visit well known spots such as 7th World Wonder Angkor Wat.

But university officials say this kind of trip draws a special group of students.

“These are for students who don’t mind sleeping on a wooden plank or riding in a rickety bus. It’s not Europe,” said Maureen Tippen, clinical assistant professor who has organized similar trips for nearly 14 years.

“For most of the students, it’s a life-changing experience.”

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