Archive for January 31, 2019

Jamaica Day 5

This morning. at the Montego Bay New Testament Church of God, nurses continued to provide blood pressure and blood glucose screenings to Montego Bay residents. Today, they provided care to 72 patients! We found, to our surprise, that residents in rural areas had significantly lower blood pressures and blood sugars than those in the urban setting. We thought this was likely due to less walking and more desk jobs found in the urban setting. 

In the afternoon, we visited the Cornwall Regional Hospital and were given a tour by the nurses. It was interesting to see how the hospital in Montego Bay was similar in some aspects to hospitals in America, yet also so different. This hospital was particularly interesting, as the hospital itself was shut down due to ventilation issues, and the units were displaced to makeshift spaces such as dormitories and tents. It was amazing to see what the entire nursing staff was able to accomplish with such limited resources and space.

Carly Whalen

Grady Hospital Day 3

It’s the Grady experience, Day 3, but it’s really our group’s second day appearance at the site. Gone are my first day jitters. I’m not really sure what I had expected on the first day. I guess I held my breath when we walked through the ER because I expected to hear loud screams of doctors asking for atropine and dramatic yells of clear. I expected scenes of evisceration like some gore movie from Friday the 13th or loose prisoners. All these silly imaginations have settled, and in its stead, I see physicians, residents, administrators, technicians, and patients milling about in the cafeteria. I even see construction crews ready for the day’s job. I can look outside the cafeteria window and see the backlog of traffic and hoping that someone has not gotten into an accident and isn’t himself on his way to Grady. It is a typical day at a hospital.

Today, we initiated our project. After a brief planning session. We broke apart in teams. Each team spoke to different groups, patient, administrators, technicians, and nurses. We started with our 10 questions that may trigger other questions, but we allowed each interviewer to let the interviewee to direct the course of the interview. We did manage to interview most of the nurses and technicians and many of the Spanish speaking patients. Many of the English speaking patients were in the middle of treatment and were asleep, so we respected their time and let them rest.

After the interviews, we discussed how we were going to compile the information and decided we would compile the information into an excel spreadsheet and we would determine how to quantify it later. We also determined that we would read other journal articles.

We also begin another project, which is to determine the menu for Friday’s Good Samaritan project. We are trying to make sure we provide good sustenance as well as provide a hearty meal. We want to provide dignity as well. We have thrown out ideas, and we decided that we were going to provide something warm.

As the day closes, my hope is that this little seed of a project good provide something that shows both the nurses and the patients that there is respect and honor in what they do…that they are not forgotten, and that we are all hopeful.


Liezl de la Cruz

Nursing at Emory Johns Creek Hospital

About nursing at Emory Johns Creek Hospital, Profile of Marilyn Margolis, CEO Johns Creek, talks about mentorship, and Cory Woodyatt, an ER nurse, talks about why he chose nursing.

Jamaica – Day 4


Today we were up and out of the resort early to visit two sites, in the morning the New Testament Church of God, Retirement, and the Garlands Hall Memorial for the physically ill and mentally challenged. 

In the morning, we provided blood pressure, blood glucose, and BMI screenings at the New Testament Church of God, Retirement. Students recalled a recurrent theme of struggling to find ways to suggest a DASH diet to people who were of low socioeconomic income and did not have easy access to a grocery store and whose diet was not familiar to their own. Luckily, our resourceful professor Dr. Gordon was able to track down the Jamaican version of the DASH diet, which proved very helpful at the education station our mini-clinic.  

In the afternoon, students spent time at the Garlands Hall Memorial. Students brought out beads and string to make friendship bracelets and necklaces, as well as, puzzle games for the older children. Students found it interesting to see how school is a very formal occasion for the children, and how very inquisitive, well-spoken and polite they were. 

After a long day of travel and very hot weather, the group returned to resort ready for a seafood dinner and a long night’s rest!

Carly Whalen

Grady Hospital – Day 2

Today, we went outside the hospital to help Catholic Charities with their refugee resettlement services. I was impressed with the dedication that local organizations have to helping the resettlement process go smoothly for refugees. Often, we see in the news the negative reactions that those around the world have to refugees coming into their cities. This experience was a reminder that there are still people willing to help refugees. Our specific role today was helping unpack storage units full of donated household items. We had very specific sheets filled with a list of items for each family. The items included everything from rice cookers to furniture. Interestingly, a specific set of federal guidelines exist for necessary resettlement supplies.  The government contracted out these services to local non-profits. While loading the supplies into the truck for each family, I couldn’t help but think about how they were preparing for their long-awaited trip away from a refugee re-settlement camp. As the United States lowers the accepted number of refugees every year, many refugees around the world hope for this day, but it may never come.

Next, we traveled to Clarkston, GA. A square mile town very close to Atlanta. The first stop was Refuge coffee shop. A quaint little place that hired local refugees living in Clarkston and supports ‘refuge’ for refugees, clever right?  One striking thing I noticed while people watching in the coffee shop was the coexistence of many different cultures from all over the world in this haven of a city. My favorite part of the day came next, helping with the after-school program. The children were excited to have new volunteers come help them with homework and play outside. While helping with homework, the struggle of being in school while learning English was evident. A barrier also existed when looking at pictures of common animals, some of the pictures did not seem familiar to the children. However, some children quickly picked up the English material. I wondered if the children only remembered Clarkston as their home or if they remembered where they were born. I also thought about how many of the children might have been born here in the United States. What would that be like to not know the place where their parents were born? As we walked the children home from school, I thought about how important the Clarkston community is to the refugees. This community understands their struggles and triumphs as refugees in the United States.

Anna Womick

Jamaica, Day 3

Today we had two sites on deck; Blossom Garden’s Children’s Home and the Church Street Police Station!

At the Blossom Garden’s Children’s Home, nursing students spent time playing with and giving some well needed TLC to the children in the home’s care. Students could be found playing jump rope, tag, or just sitting and cuddling with the home’s 30 or so children ages 2-10. Students remarked that, while troubling that such a place must exist, there was a radiance and warmth exhibited by the children and staff that was infectious and uplifting. A fantastic start to the day.

Next, we were on our way to the Church Street Police Station to provide blood pressure, blood sugar, and BMI screenings for the staff. A highlight of this site visit was having all the students cheer on one of the men who was afraid to get stuck for his blood sugar and a little girl who was very excited to receive reading glasses in her goodie bag.

A late dinner at an Italian restaurant on the resort topped off the evening leaving everyone full and tired. 

Grady Hospital – Day 1

First off, I’m grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Grady immersion experience. This trip provides the unique opportunity to work with a specific patient population within the local Hispanic community: undocumented individuals suffering from end stage renal disease.
Today our group started the morning with a tour of Grady, including the emergency, trauma and dialysis units. Afterwards, we had a group huddle to discuss the pre-experience assigned literature we read. The intersection of healthcare and government policies, specifically access to health care services for undocumented immigrants, was the key topic.

To offer a brief recap, individuals from this population cannot qualify for government health insurance and, often, cannot afford private health insurance. Without insurance, they cannot receive the routine dialysis treatments they need to survive and maintain a decent quality of life. However, no one can be denied emergency health care services in the United States. Undocumented immigrants must therefore wait until their condition worsens to the point of crisis and then report to the emergency room for dialysis treatment. While this loophole offers some hope, it severely impacts the quality of life these individuals are able to have. Grady has sought solutions to this issue while staying within bounds of current policies.

After our roundtable discussion, we went to the dialysis unit and met with some of the patients and staff. We broke into groups of three and met with individual patients, asking them general questions about their day-to-day lives and current health issues. One of the other topics we discussed during our roundtable was patient adherence to the renal diet. Patients in end stage renal disease have to avoid certain potassium-rich foods, in addition to other dietary restrictions. Adherence to the diet is an issue within all populations, but I wondered if there were cultural-specific reasons within the Hispanic community.

I asked the patient we interviewed, a man in his mid-40s who has been receiving dialysis treatments for six years, what he thought the reasons were behind non-adherence. He explained that economic barriers were a factor because many families couldn’t afford the healthier foods they were suppose to eat. He also said it was very difficult for one person to maintain a specific diet when they lived with many people who did not follow the diet. I also asked him what the morale was like between the Hispanic patients and the health care staff. He replied that, just as it is everywhere, some people were kind and some were not. When asked if he believed there was trust between the two groups, he said “no.”

Why is there a perceived lack of trust? It could be because these patients and the health care providers aren’t able to establish routine schedules and, therefore, are incapable of building the same kind of relationship that insured patients are able to have with their health care team. It could also be due to burn out within the health care staff, who are faced with a large patient population, a lack of consistent scheduling and staff shortages. Or, perhaps, the lack of trust is related to the fear undocumented individuals have of any agency that is driven by government policy. It’s difficult to say, but it may factor in to the issue of diet non-adherence. Are we more likely to take diet advice from someone we trust, like our family and community, or from people we barely know?

Our interview concluded and, as we prepared to leave, I told the patient “nos vemos el jueves.” (We’ll see you on Thursday.) He responded automatically, “primero Dios.” (First God.) This is a common response, as Latino communities’ concept of time is oriented in the present. They don’t worry about the future, but rather live for today.

“Hay más tiempo que vida.” (There’s more time than life.)

Que Dios los bendiga,

Ginger Rodriguez

Jamaica Days 1 and 2

By Carly Whalen

Greetings from Montego Bay, Jamaica!

Our group of 15 Nursing Students arrived in Montego Bay on Saturday, January 5th. We were greeted by both warm weather and the warm smile of our driver for the trip, Willie! Wiped from the trip, student nurses and faculty enjoyed a quick dinner and were in bed early.

The next day, we visited the New Testament Church of God in Montego Bay. We were greeted by the joyful faces of the minister and his congregation. Word of our arrival spread like wildfire, and people from all over the surrounding area flocked to the church to have us take their blood pressure, blood sugar, calculate their BMI, and to receive education on diabetes and hypertension. We quickly set up stations for people to flow through, and almost immediately had an efficient and effective way to manage the large volume of people who sought our care. By the end of the day, we had seen 70 members of the community, both adults and children.

In debrief, we talked about seeing many similar health problems that face Americans in this population. We identified that the Jamaicans we encountered were concerned and informed about their own health, asking us very pointed and specific questions about diabetes and hypertension, as well as management of co-morbid conditions. Additionally, we were amazed at the values of patience and generosity exhibited by the community. The wait times to see nurses at the education station were long at some points, and there were times blood sugars or blood pressures needed to be taken twice, yet no one complained about the wait or the extra time. Additionally, the congregation provided us with a local staple known as patties; after a long day of work these were greatly appreciated and received with enthusiasm!

A great start to a week of service!