A group at Middle Tennessee School of Anesthesia is currently spearheading efforts to implement a permanent service program at the school. This mission-based initiative will send teams to provide a variety of medical services, including anesthesia for much-needed (but previously unaffordable) surgeries, in impoverished areas across the globe.
To learn more about the team’s recent efforts, as well as their future plans, click here to visit The Tennessean’s website. You can also read the full text of the article below.
If it weren’t for the help of a Sumner County nurse, a 3-year-old child in Haiti would have likely died.
Many lives were saved and improved in economically struggling countries within the past months because of the commitment of three local leaders who are hoping to inspire others to serve.
Rachel Brown, Ken Schwab and Chris Hulin are administrators at Middle Tennessee School of Anesthesia in Madison. They have embarked on multiple missionary trips lately in hopes to lay the path for a service program to launch at the institution in 2015.
“We want to learn how to plan and organize these trips and figure out the logistics,” said Brown, the school’s assistant program administrator.
A Gallatin native, Brown spent 15 years working as a nurse anesthetist at Hendersonville Medical Center. A nurse anesthetist works in a team with the anesthesiologist before surgeries to put patients to sleep and afterword bring them back to consciousness.
“That nurse will be at the head of your hospital bed, and she or he would have the most interaction with you,” said Gallatin resident Ken Schwab, president of MTSA, which offers the only self-standing and the largest program for nurse anesthetists in the state.
People wait years for surgery
As part of one missionary trip in March, Brown spent a week in Haiti working with the Nashville-based nonprofit Live Beyond that is building a medical compound in the country. She provided basic first aid.
An experience she won’t forget, Brown said, is when a mother walked two hours to bring her 3-year-old daughter, whose arm was burned from a hot liquid two days before. After Brown secured the wound, the mother walked the two-hour trip every day for a week so her child’s arm would be cleaned and re-bandaged.
“That’s health care in Haiti,” Brown said. “There was just no other place to get care in that area. If she wasn’t treated, there was a high probability of a really bad infection because they also don’t have clean water, and her dying from that infection.”
The picture was similar in January, when Brown’s mission work took her to the Dominican Republic with a team from Union University. They were the sole anesthesia providers for all surgeries in the area and had to bring their own supplies.
People had waited for years to have surgery and some 200 lined to receive care. Of them, the team was able to operate on 40 patients. One of them was a woman in her 60s who had waited for five years to have a surgery on her uterus that was hanging between her legs due to weakened abdominal muscles as a result of multiple childbirths.
“She had waited because she had no money,” Brown said. “It’s very uncomfortable and painful. She could’ve very easily died from infection.”
The school’s Dean and Program Administrator Chris Hulin traveled to Guatemala in November. There he and four other medics set up mobile clinics, where they treated between 100 and 150 patients a day for conditions from respiratory infection to joint pain to diabetes.
“One specific 6- or 7-year-old girl wouldn’t have lived another two days because her fever was so high and her respiratory infection was so severe,” said Hulin, who lives in Portland.
The team set up clinics at various locations such as schools and churches. Once they had to transform a store’s front into a clinic and its chicken yard into a waiting room.
“You’re only there to help them temporarily, and there are many long-term needs,” Hulin said. “We’re looking for more opportunities to do mission trips and teach self care. There’s a lot of need for basic health-care education.”
While not medical, Schwab’s mission work in February partially healed a pastor’s parsonage in Cuba. With a team from local Methodists churches, Schwab resurfaced the parsonage’s interior walls with materials, mostly brought from the U.S.
“Cuba doesn’t have much to work with,” Schwab said. “It was a beautiful building that had deteriorated over the years, and the need for maintenance was significant.”
Missionaries hope Middle Tennessee School of Anesthesia students and staff will follow in their footsteps.
“This is our demonstration of personal commitment to service,” Schwab said. “As an extension to one of our core values, we hope to communicate and install in our students and staff the importance of serving others.”
Contact Dessislava Yankova at 575-7170. Follow her on Twitter @desspor.
Did you know?
The Middle Tennessee School of Anesthesia is a higher education, single purpose Christian institution that offers two graduate programs: a Master of Science with a Focus in Anesthesia degree and a Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice degree.
• 65 percent of nurse anesthetists in Middle Tennessee are MTSA alumni.
• 45 percent of all nurse anesthetists in the state graduated from MTSA.
• 1,500 people have graduated from MTSA worldwide
Learn more at www.mtsa.edu.