PHILADELPHIA (June 4, 2018) – In addition to their duties caring for patients, many Fox Chase Cancer Center staff volunteer their time to those most in need. Recently, two nurses and a doctor made a volunteer medical trip to Haiti, where they provided an array of medical services to those in desperate need of care. For a week, a group of seven individuals including an occupational therapist, a special needs teacher, and five nurses - including Nicole Seeley and Sandi Wetherbee from Fox Chase - provided mobile medical clinics in Onaville, a town outside of Port-Au-Prince that was established for displaced people who had lost everything in the 2010 earthquake. The group went through the organization iTOT, which is a Christian non-profit organization that provides medical and therapeutic treatment to people in developing nations.
They also provided two days of mobile clinics in one of Port-Au-Prince's poorest areas, City Soleil. The people they saw in all locations were desperate for care.
“It was quite a different way of nursing for us, and very eye-opening. The majority of patients we saw were suffering from infections, the likely culprit being no access to clean water- skin infections, postpartum infections, UTIs and eye infections- plus a lot of gastrointestinal worms, undiagnosed/uncontrolled hypertension and diabetes, and wounds,” said Seeley.
The nurses spent two additional days caring for children recently rescued from slavery, who had been reported as stolen from their families, and ultimately brought into an orphanage. They treated a scabies outbreak there and performed eye exams and distributed reading glasses as needed.
“Mostly we just loved and played with the amazing kids there,” said Seeley.
Another day was spent helping in a special needs classroom for children with mental and physical disabilities- which is an extremely rare service in Haiti, and performing a baby check clinic, where they did well checks for babies whose mothers travelled miles on foot to bring their babies to be seen.
Coincidentally, on their plane ride home, they met Philip Abbosh, MD, PhD, a urologic oncologist at Fox Chase. He had been in Haiti training urology surgeons.
“All along the way, we brought with us the compassionate care we've learned to give at Fox Chase and made sure the people we saw in Haiti knew that no matter their condition, no matter where they live, no matter how clean or dirty they are, no matter what disasters they've suffered through or how much they've lost, we have not forgotten or given up on them, and there is still hope- all principles of the exceptional nursing care at Fox Chase,” said Seeley.