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On a Medical Mission

News Story

Pace nursing simulation lab intern and recent graduate Martha Renteria ’14 will be putting her passion into practice as she travels to Haiti for a medical mission in March. And she needs your help!

“You can leave Haiti, but Haiti will never leave you.” That seems to be a common saying by Hands Up for Haiti volunteers, who began their mission in 2010 following the devastating earthquake. When their small team was sent to Cap Haitien, what they found were people and refugees in need of medical help.  Today HUFH has grown into a large network of physicians, nurses, and other committed individuals who want to improve the quality of health care available to people in Cap Haitien.

In March 2015, Martha Renteria ’14 will become one of these special volunteers, as she travels to Haiti with HUFH to deliver health care to Haitian children and their families living without adequate health services.

“Together with a team of Haitian doctors, nurses, and health care workers, we will be holding family health, pediatric, and maternal health outreach clinics in several remote villages and in the Shada clinic, located in the slums of Cap Haitien,” says Renteria. “We will work together with our Haitian colleagues, teaching them and learning from them, and we will teach community groups basic health lessons.”

A 2014 graduate of the BS in Nursing program, Renteria feels fully prepared for this medical mission and what lies ahead, thanks to her hands-on experience at Pace.

“Pace has a very special program that not every school has,” says Renteria. “I think the moment everything clicked was when I was a senior. Your senior year at Pace you do a preceptorship, which means that rather than go to the hospital in a clinical group with eight or nine students and one instructor, you’re one-on-one with a nurse. You get a lot of personal time, and that person becomes your mentor. [Mine] would have me be the nurse 100% and throw me into patient rounds. I really think that I wasn’t in a nursing student role.”

Renteria has also gained invaluable experience through Pace’s nursing simulation labs, both as a student and now as a nurse intern.

“One time, during a simulation, I got so nervous. We had three patients and I gave insulin first, but the other patient needed to be given oxygen, so I should have done that first. I didn’t prioritize, and I know that now,” she says. “Airway, breathing, circulation. You’ll never make these mistakes again.”

Now as a nurse intern at the simulation labs, Renteria preps for simulations, recreating a hospital environment and a high-fidelity learning experience for Pace students to practice hands-on what they’re learning in the classroom.

She also just started a full-time position as a registered nurse at Westchester Medical Center, where she did her preceptorship. Working in the clinical decision unit within the ER, Renteria gets to take care of a variety of patients in dangerous situations, from “severe diabetic ketoacidosis, or someone coming with signs of the Ebola virus.”

She also plans to start her master’s in nursing education at Pace. “I want to teach. I just had such a great experience at Pace that I feel that I need to pay it forward,” she says.

And when Renteria travels to Haiti in March, she will be doing exactly that. Part of her volunteering experience includes training locals in neonatal resuscitation through the HUFH’s Helping Babies Breathe program, developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. In Haiti, for every 1,000 births, 50 babies will die in the first month of life, four will die directly after birth (usually from infection or lack of oxygen), and others suffer brain damage and are permanently impaired.

“They don’t have the resources and training to resuscitate babies. So what we do is we bring the community together and teach them CPR and life-saving skills,” she says.

Renteria will be covering the cost of her trip, but is looking for donations to help cover the cost of the Helping Babies Breathe workshop, medicine and supplies, a peanut-based nutritional treatment called Medika Mamba for the children that they help, and educating teenagers and parents in the community, making a huge impact in Haiti. Hands Up for Haiti is a recognized 501(c)(3) organization, and all donations are tax-deductible to the fullest amount allowed under the law.

To donate to Renteria’s mission trip, click here.

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