Fourth National Nurses Group to Deploy to Philippines for Typhoon Haiyan Relief Effort
The Nurses’ Gift of Healing for the Holidays
While many families are busy in December holiday preparations, a group of registered nurses from Maine to California are getting ready for their own special gift – volunteering to deploy to the Philippines to provide medical support for those who continue to be affected by aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda.
A fourth team of RN volunteers, part of the National Nurses United’s Registered Nurse Response Network, will depart mostly on Monday, December 9, linking up with RNRN nurses already on the ground in Roxas City on northern end of the island of Panay, which was in the direct path of the storm.
The next group includes RNs from Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Arizona, and California. They are among the 3,000 RNs from all 50 states and 19 nations who volunteered in the days after the deadly storm to assist with the relief project for Haiyan/Yolanda.
NNU, which intends to continue sending RNs to the Philippines long after the world’s spotlight has faded, is inviting the public to contribute to the effort, at http://www.nationalnursesunited.org/pages/rnrn-disaster-relief-fund
"I've always wanted to participate in some kind of medical relief effort because I feel I have the skills to help people who are truly in need,” says Anna Rathbun, an intensive care RN of Duluth, MN, a member of the fourth team. “When I heard about the RNRN effort, I knew right away I wanted to go because it's a great opportunity to apply and go through an organization that I trust."
"When I saw the email asking for volunteers I immediately responded and hoped to get a call back,” said Lori Barmore, a trauma RN from Chandler, AZ. “I've gone to Haiti and Guatemala on medical missions, it's something I love to do. As a trauma nurse I'm experienced at responding to people's needs when they are in dire straits.
“When you work in these relief situations you don't hardly have anything you need and it forces you to be creative,” Barmore said. “I bring that back to my nursing practice in the US and it makes me more conscious of how we use our resources here in the U.S."
RNRN volunteers Jane Sandoval, RN and Girlie Garnada, RN with a patient at a mobile clinic
Rathbun, Barmore and the others departing this week will follow in the footsteps of the RNRN volunteers who have been providing basic medical care at rotating mobile clinics, in a ruined chapel, school, gym and other temporary settings as well as at a city health clinic in and around Roxas, and other sites in the Philippines.
The RNRN volunteers have worked in conjunction with local public health officials, physicians, a church and other community supporters, providing wound care, giving tetanus and other shots, offering critical stress debriefings, and other basic care.
Tim Launius, a critical care RN from Michigan who recently returned from his deployment with the second RNRN team, recalls that his first day working on relief assignment took place at a damaged church powered by a generator.
Throughout the day, Launius noted, more than 300 patients sought assistance with injuries that had festered for weeks without attention. Many receiving treatment suffered from infections because their makeshift housing was contaminated from the typhoon’s storm surge and accumulated. Within a week his team had provided care for more than 1,000 patients.
RNRN, a project of National Nurses United, the nation’s largest organization of RNs, was formed in 2004 in the aftermath of the South Asia tsunami in 2004, when the need for nurses was not being met by traditional disaster relief organizations. Since that time RNRN has send hundreds of direct-care nurse volunteers to assist following Hurricane Katrina, the massive earthquake in Haiti, and Hurricane Sandy.