IWU Nurses in Ecuador

September 26 2012

IWU Nurses in Ecuador

By Heather Lowmiller, with help from OMS Ecuador Missionary Susan Stiles and Indiana Wesleyan University Faculty

Editor's Note: The team of four graduate-level and three undergraduate global studies nursing students, as well as two faculty members, ready to work alongside OMS Ecuador missionaries, two American doctors, an Ecuadorian doctor and dentist and several church volunteers, arrived in Ecuador on Saturday, Sept. 22 after a long day of travel. 

They opened the clinic on Monday, Sept. 24, and experienced a fruitful first day, with 122 patients seen, and 280 prescriptions dispensed. The student team, led by Becky Hoffpauir and Rhonda Oldham, is working well together. They will minister in Ecuador until Sept. 30. Here is a story of WHY these dedicated nurses decided to use their skills to minister in Ecuador.

3:00AM- A typical starting time for an Ecuadorian patient to wake up, gather their family members, and arrive at the public hospital to wait in line. Medical care is first come, first serve, and if one arrives late it is possible that they will not be seen at all.

Health care is based on a ticket. Each patient is registered and receives a ticket. When their ticket is called, he will be triaged by a nurse, and given instructions of where to go next. If the appropriate doctor is working and has open appointments, patients will find another line and wait. If that doctor is unavailable, patients will return to the hospital another day and start the process over again.

Hallways are lined with patients and their families, waiting for care. Sick patients wait just a few feet from a vaccination clinic. Surgical patients are wheeled through public hallways.

Crumbling plaster and worn paint adorn the walls. Building maintenance will also have to wait its turn.

Doctors and other medical employees are typically underpaid at the public hospital, despite the high volume of patients they treat. Sometimes, very capable health care workers lack the equipment or medicines to serve their patient’s specific needs.

Preventative medicine imposes a burden on the already strained system. When a patient is fortunate enough to be seen, he will only have access to the care available at that hospital. If he cannot be treated onsite, he will be referred somewhere else. If needed medicines are unavailable, family members will be sent out to retrieve them, at their own cost. Sometimes, patients choose to ration pills or go without if they cannot afford them. A family member may need to take on a second job to help pay for a costly treatment.

Our team of IWU nurses, OMS missionaries and volunteers are providing clinical care in coastal Ecuador. Residents of this area normally have to travel to another city to visit a public hospital. Medical care and health education will be provided. Basic medicines, toothbrushes, toothpaste and reading glasses are available for distribution. Please pray for the team as they serve this community.