Four Denver School of Nursing (DSN) students, two faculty members and a recent alumnus led community health education outreach on nutrition, provided care to pregnant and new mothers and provided care to ill pediatric patients and severely malnourished children in Kei and Yumbe, Uganda, said Dr. Marcia Bankirer, president of DSN.
Accompanied by DSN faculty members, Tara Haskell, adjunct professor and pediatric nurse, and Micah Hughes, assistant professor, DSN students assisted in the pediatrics, labor and delivery wards and therapeutic feeding center of Yumbe Hospital for nine days.
Yumbe Hospital has no running water or electricity, Haskell said. “We were impressed with the quality of care provided to the patients by the hospital’s nursing team, who had so few resources. Many of these nurses would work 16 hour days, come back after sleeping four hours and work another 16 hours without complaint. Often, there were two surgeries in the same room at the same time. Yet, the hospital has low rates of infection. I was inspired by how the nurses made a difference in their patient’s lives.”
DSN students Amanda Raskind, Aria Turney, Austin Vaughn and Patrick Vogelsong, plus DSN alumnus Ian Morlock, RN, helped Yumbe Hospital nurses to deliver babies, assisted in C-section deliveries and conducted full assessments of newborns, pediatric patients and new mothers. They prepared and administered IV medications, fluids and blood, performed lab draws and started IVs on multiple patients.
In the hospital’s therapeutic feeding ward, DSN’s team treated severely malnourished pediatric patients. This included daily weights and measuring the right formula amounts to nurture the children to a healthy state before they could go home. They provided nutrition education for the parents to help reduce the risk of the children being readmitted for care.
Children who are undernourished and malnourished cost Uganda more than 5% of its national income, according to The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP). Badly fed or undernourished babies are sickly and highly vulnerable to diseases like malaria or anemia. The cost of treating these diseases in Uganda is calculated at $254 million each year.
The team also traveled 50 miles south of Yumbe to Arua, to lead a community health education program for 50 Ugandan nursing students.
“When we met with the nursing students of Arua Comprehensive School of Nursing, we identified all the areas of DSN’s community health education program, including how to deliver nutrition information to villagers whose diets are vitamin deficient,” Haskell said. “Malnutrition makes malaria symptoms worse in people of all ages, but especially new mothers and their newborns. We wanted to help those future nurses educate and empower their communities so that everyone’s health standards improve.”