Press Release

Answering the Call- RNRN Nurse Volunteers Return to Tucson to Provide Critical Medical Aid to Migrants

Nurses will be available for interview May 4-6

Registered nurses with the Registered Nurse Response Network (RNRN) will arrive today in Tucson to provide critical medical aid for asylum seekers. RNRN, a disaster-relief project of the California Nurses Foundation (CNF) and National Nurses United (NNU), is working with Casa Alitas, a shelter operated by Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona as an unprecedented number of migrant families are released from federal detention. 


“These are people, who through no fault of their own, are in horrific situations and trying to survive,” said Nancy Rudner, a registered nurse from Florida who is returning to Tucson for a second deployment at the shelter. Rudner noted that in her first deployment in March, nurses continually underestimated the age of the children at the shelter because their growth was so stunted due to a lack of nutrition. “These parents are putting their children first and enduring incredible hardship, so their children have a chance to survive.”

RNRN began sending teams of nurses to Casa Alitas in February. When the teams first arrived, nurses were assessing about 40 to 60 patients each day, but those numbers have shot up over the last few months. This weekend, upwards of a hundred new migrants are expected to arrive each day.

RNRN nurses are very alarmed by repeated reports from asylum seekers about the harsh conditions in federal detention. Migrants say they are held in extremely cold concrete cages, yet allowed only one layer of clothing. In addition, migrants report having medications confiscated or withheld, a lack of food, clean water, overcrowded conditions, and no facilities for showering or bathing.  

Dotty Nygard, a registered nurse from Tracy, Calif., said she feels an obligation to care for all those in need with dignity and compassion.

“As registered nurses, we are there to be an unbiased resource to provide comfort and care for the journey the migrants are on. We need to lend a hand wherever it is needed. It is simply the right thing to do.”

RNRN volunteer nurses have cared for thousands of patients during disaster relief and humanitarian assistance deployments that include the South Asian tsunami (2004); Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005); the Haiti earthquake (2010); Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda (2013); Continuing Promise with the Department of Defense (2010, 2015); Hurricanes Harvey and Maria (2017); Volcan de Fuego Relief in Guatemala (2018), Hurricane Michael (2018); and the Camp Fire in Butte County, Calif. (2018); and ongoing deployments to the Arizona border to provide medical care to asylum seekers (2019).