This Nurses’ Week, ReSurge thanks Barco’s Nightingales for their support—support that enables volunteer nurses like Frankie, profiled below, to provide reconstructive surgery to our patients in developing countries.
A perioperative nurse at PeaceHealth St. Joseph’s Medial Medical Center in Bellingham, Wash., Frankie’s first trip with ReSurge was in 2007, after a fellow nurse told her about the organization. Her first trip was to Bangladesh. As Frankie states, “That trip was the biggest step I’d ever taken. It was a little scary. I wasn’t a big traveler and Bangladesh is not an easy place to go. Once I met the other ReSurge volunteers, though, I was immediately at ease. On that trip—and every other—I found the people to be some of the most interesting and kindest I’d ever met.”
One thing Frankie enjoys about her ReSurge nursing experience is the opportunity to connect more with patients. She points out, “At home I never get to see people after surgery, whereas on these trips, I do. Before their surgeries, I don’t care what age they are; there’s tension and fear on their faces and in their posture. Then when you see them the next day that’s all gone–they may still have pain but all the fear is gone. Seeing that transition and knowing that I had a part to play in their positive experience is so rewarding.”
Asked to recall the patient she found most affecting, Frankie does not hesitate “I’m really affected by the women who suffer terrible burns on their torso and neck when the scarves they wear catch fire while cooking”.
This problem is particularly prevalent in India and South Asia, with the number of burns reaching a level that can only be called a crisis. Frankie describes the impact on women’s lives “We’ve had several patients that have suffered these types of burns. Because their scars have fused their chin to their chest, they cannot lift their head up to see straight ahead. You see that and then you see them after the first surgery and their head is erect. They may require more surgeries, but at least now they can look up. They can look up and see their families and the world.”
As she nears retirement, Frankie is proud to be a member of the nursing profession. “A lot of research shows that nurses are highly respected compared with almost any profession and that’s been consistent throughout the years—people get that nurses are there to help you.”