Home
Haitian Hospital
share

Nurses Practice Pediatrics in Haitian Hospital

More than 10 million people live in Haiti. It has one critical care and trauma hospital.

Notre Dame College’s Diana Kovacic, M.S.N., B.S.N., R.N., clinical coordinator for the division of nursing, and B.S.N. student Annie Walters ’13 volunteered more than 80 hours—from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.—over seven straight days at that facility this spring.

Nursing HaitiThrough Project Medishare, a nonprofit organization providing health services in Haiti, the teacher and student nursed children from three days to 14 years old suffering from conditions such as hydrocephalus, a disease characterized by excessive accumulation of fluid in the brain.

They worked in the pediatric unit at Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare in the Haitian capital city of Port-au-Prince.

“For students, especially, it is eye opening to see all of the needs—and not just of the patients but of the nurses—in such a resource-poor setting,” Kovacic said. “In the U.S. you can access almost any supply you would ever need. There we didn’t even have bed sheets.”

The hospital also ran out of alcohol swabs one day, and the facility’s only x-ray machine was broken the entire week Kovacic and Walters were working. But with or without materials, the Notre Dame nurses still provided pediatric care—and offered as much comfort possible to the children when they could.

“For one week, I gave her all the love and attention she deserved,” Walters said of a patient named Maggie. “But I hated leaving because I don’t know what’s going to happen to her.”

“For students, and for me, the experience is life-altering. It gives you a totally different perspective. It is an entirely different world,” Kovacic said.

This was Kovacic’s second trip to Haiti, but her first with a Notre Dame student. She left the College June 30; she is pursuing her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. Kovacic took a larger group of Notre Dame nursing students to volunteer in St. Lucia over spring break 2012.

Walters graduated from Notre Dame in 2013. She has been a nursing aid in a cardiac step-down unit at the Cleveland Clinic. She is interested in returning to Haiti as a volunteer and, possibly, joining the Peace Corps.