Nursing School Task Force maintains presence in Haiti
The group, which was formed in February 2010, is 'committed long term'
March 26, 2012, 8:57 pm · Updated March 27, 2012, 11:10 pm·
More than two years after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, Penn’s School of Nursing is still looking to do what it can to help with the recovery effort.
The Nursing School formed the Task Force on Haiti in February 2010, and the group remains active to this day.
“The school decided right away that we should do something for Haiti,” said Nursing adjunct professor and Assistant Dean for Global Health Affairs Marjorie Muecke, who initially helped to create the task force. “However, we decided not to go to Haiti until we really knew … how we [could] go without being a burden and instead being an asset.”
Today, task force members include Nursing students and professors, as well as staff at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania. Together, these nurses volunteer directly in Haiti with Penn medical teams and various nonprofit organizations.
As the general facilitator of the Task Force on Haiti, Nursing sophomore Natalie Ball said she thinks “it is important to get more of the nursing community involved in order to create more awareness of the nursing education needed in Haiti.”
The goals of the task force, Muecke explained, are to support the education of Haitian nurses so that they can become independent leaders within the health care field, to fundraise to help the Nursing School support the growth and ultimate development of nursing education in Haiti and to develop lasting relationships with nursing educators in Haiti.
“We’re just trying to help out as best as we can,” said Pamela Jackson-Malik, a Nursing adjunct assistant professor and another task force member.
Muecke stressed that, while the earthquake may have occurred more than two years ago, the rebuilding effort remains a large work in progress.
Muecke said the task force is currently looking to collect enough funding to send two doctoral students to Haiti to teach advance nursing research in person and online.
Last March, the task force organized a “Walk for Water” 5K walk. The event ultimately raised $8,000 to help Haitians gain access to clean drinking water.
“We are committed long term,” Muecke said. “We will help with whatever our partners in Haiti say they want and need.”
The task force has partners for nursing education at all levels of government in Haiti, Muecke added.
At the local level, the school partners with the Haiti National School of Nursing in Port-au-Prince. This is the same school that lost its entire second-year class after the earthquake. The Nursing School also partners at the national level with the National Nurses Association of Haiti, the Ministry of Public Health and Population and the Ministry of Education.
“The stronger our group, the stronger our support in Haiti can be,” Ball said.
“We hope that [Nursing] students act and think as global citizens,” Muecke added. “It’s a way to bring the real world to Penn.”