We had mentioned in previous newsletters that we were planning a medical mission to Kosovo. The purpose of the trip was to provide training in the prevention and treatment of pressure sores.
The Team consisted of Steve Doty and Jamie Kita from Michigan and Denya Jacobs RN and Niki Marancik, RN from Montana. We arrived in Kosovo on Sunday, February 16th, 2014, and began with a tour of a hospital in Pristina on Monday. Two days of classroom training was provided and one day to visit the homes of people suffering with paralysis.
Fjolla Duraku, who we have known for many years, was our interpreter and coordinator
We were able to tour the hospital in Pristina and get a first-hand look at the medical facilities and equipment that is available. Visits to the home of paralyzed people gave us an understanding of the many difficulties that they face daily. In many cases people are not adequately cared for and there is a lack of proper medicines and bandages for treating the pressure sores.
Comments from Niki:
I have been aware of the kind work that DCHA does for many years, but to be part of a Team as a nurse, opened my eyes to the scope of difference DCHA is making in so many lives. We met many survivors of spinal cord injury, and observed that their caregivers and nurses are very passionate about their work. We were able to share with them vital information on preventing and treating pressure ulcers, which is a very serious medical condition and potentially life threatening. We worked alongside Albanian nurses and caregivers that want to continue up-grade their knowledge and skills in managing this problem, and to provide better quality of life for those afflicted.
One day stands out in my mind. We visited a woman who was a soldier and received a gunshot wound to her spine during the war. She is having difficulty with pressure sores and said, “Everyone has forgotten me, my government, the doctors, and you have come all this way to see me in my home, to help me?” After working with Steve, I would have to answer yes, that is exactly the mission of DCHA.
(Niki Marancik, RN DCHA Kosovo / Belarus Team 2014)
Comments from Denya:
You really don’t know anything about a country until you actually go and spend time with the people. I found Kosovo to be such beautiful country with warm, hospitable people, but their medical resources are lacking. At the hospital we visited, patients that had to bring in their own bedding, food, and supplies. The nurse told us that “sometimes” the hospital provides antibiotics, but other times the family has to bring them from outside. Most of the people we talked to avoid going to a hospital. My initial reaction in these situations is to buy a bunch of stuff for everyone, because it makes me feel like I did something, but that is only a temporary help. This is why I really appreciate DCHA’s model of “helping the helpers help the helpless”.
We spent our week with some great people who are working hard for the disabled. These “helpers” were very attentive to the educational instruction that we provided on prevention and care of pressure ulcers, and they have made plans to follow up and continue teaching the things we talked about. In both Kosovo and in Belarus, what I saw was that devoted nurses and caregivers are the key to good care, even when resources are lacking. The way to help any situation long term is to find those people who are already addressing the problems in their own country; encourage those people, educate them, support them, and provide them with the necessary resources. Those are the people who will get things done. It was a real privilege and quite humbling for me to meet so many people who are dedicated to helping their neighbors. I hope to be a part of the Direct Connect team again in the future.
(Denya Jacobs, RN DCHA Kosovo / Belarus Team 2014)