BROOKLYN — More than a dozen students and several faculty members from LIU Brooklyn’s School of Nursing and LIU Pharmacy (The Arnold & Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences) are back from an international health care volunteer mission in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
“It was a great learning experience,” said volunteer Sonya Pereira-Edwards, a student in the CEO/HHC Nursing Career Ladder Program, adding, “not just from a nursing perspective but from a human perspective. People who had lost everything somehow still found the resilience and hope to go on.”
The Nursing Career Ladder Program, located at Kings County Hospital Center, is funded by Mayor Bloomberg’s Center for Economic Opportunity Program (CEO) and is a joint effort by LIU’s School of Nursing and the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC).
The program offers support for economically disadvantaged students as they progress academically in the nursing profession. Most students receive scholarships from the CEO and additional support from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration’s Nursing Workforce Diversity (NWD) grant program.
“CEO students give back on a constant basis. In addition to volunteering for many public service initiatives, participants also commit to work at an HHC facility, post-graduation,” said La’Shawn Williams, program director of CEO/HHC Nursing Program.
The LIU volunteers worked with two non-governmental organizations:
• Jenkins and Penn Haiti Relief Organization (JP/HRO), formed just after the earthquake in January 2010 to set up a tent city and provide services to more than 60,000 displaced people.
• Health through Walls, which provides free health care to incarcerated people in undeveloped countries.
The LIU group gave direct patient care in the two clinics of JP/HRO and led health education classes to staff in a variety of areas, such as EKG interpretation, post-traumatic stress syndrome, drug interactions, drug calculations, diabetes management and basic health assessment. The group performed health assessments for 135 residents, the majority of whom had never before received a health examination.
At Health through Walls, the incarcerated juveniles ranged from 13 to 19, with offenses ranging from minor theft to murder. The organization’s founder, John May, praised LIU’s health initiative at the juvenile center and urged that a long-term relationship be developed between LIU and Health through Walls.
“Most of the group got to talk with Sean Penn, which was inspirational and exciting,” said Pereira-Edwards.
This effort was not the first international health care mission that LIU Brooklyn and LIU Pharmacy have undertaken. Previous missions included health care services in Haiti and Sierra Leone.
LIU Brooklyn and LIU Pharmacy are located at Flatbush and DeKalb avenues in Downtown Brooklyn. For more information, call (718) 488-1011.