Nursing Students, Faculty Return to Kenya on a Mission
Before the spring semester ended, eight students from the St. John Fisher College Wegmans School of Nursing left for a trip they wouldn’t soon forget. The seniors, accompanied by Dr. Vivian Cunningham, traveled to Kenya to complete their final clinical nursing rotation before their graduation.
The students spent many hours earlier in the semester preparing for the international nursing experience. They gathered health care materials to distribute to African hospitals and orphanages, and also to use in clinics while they were there.
After arriving in Nairobi, they were met by Masai warriors, who served as their escorts throughout the trip. According to Cunningham, the men offered a rare insight into Masai culture.
“They provided security, friendship, translation, and access to Masai villages that were greatly in need of health care,” said Cunningham.
The group traveled from Nairobi to Nakuru in the Rift Valley to visit Father Stephen Nagari, a friend of the College. He hosted them for two days, allowing the students to visit St. Mary’s Hospital, Egerton University, and an orphanage run by the Catholic Diocese in the Rift Valley. They provided health care at all three stops.
From Nakuru, they traveled to Ravine to work in Mercy Mission Hospital. This was the group’s first experience integrating into the health care system in Kenya. They stayed and worked for four days, and then took a much needed break, traveling to the Kakamega Forest Reserve for a hike.
Their next stop was Maseno, where they stayed in a guest house on the Maseno Mission Hospital grounds. Each day of their stay, the students worked in all aspects of the hospital, which included making home visits to treat patients with the assistance of the Masai drivers. Additionally, they provided a health care screening and illness clinic for over 600 children from the Mbaka Oromo Primary and Secondary School. Some students had an opportunity to vaccinate infants in the maternal/child health clinic and triage patients in the HIV counseling center. They were also able to deliver on the promise of the Wegmans School of Nursing’s Project Pad, which stemmed from the group’s last trip to Kenya after they learned that sanitary supplies for young women were hard to come by. They delivered the first 100 sanitary supply kits in February of this year, and another 100 kits during this trip.
In addition, they provided an educational program for nursing students at the Maseno Mission Hospital related to post-partum hemorrhage and newborn resuscitation, using the Wegmans School of Nursing’s “Mamma Natalie and Baby” simulation model.
After spending 10 days in Maseno, they traveled back to Narok to conduct a clinic for two Masai villages.
“While it is never easy to provide health care in the developing world, we always come home changed for the better and reminded of how fortunate we are,” said Cunningham.
Hillary Schlosser ’12, who went on the School of Nursing’s first mission trip to Kenya, said her favorite part of the experience was setting up the nursing care clinics in different communities.
“Each day brought new learning opportunities that challenged our critical thinking abilities and improved our clinical skills,” she said.
One clinic Schlosser says really inspired her was a clinic they set up for a Masai tribe that was located miles from any health care facility. In this particular community, cows lived in the same gated community as the people, which in turn produced many flies, putting the children at risk for certain eye infections. Many children in this area did suffer from eye infections due to those living conditions, and Schlosser’s group administered antibiotic eye ointment and worked with interpreters to teach their parents how to administer future doses.
“I really appreciated the elders in the tribe because they took an interest in the care that I was providing to the children, and made sure that every child was seen,” said Schlosser. “My experience overall was inspirational and has shaped my nursing practice in so many positive ways.”