Recently, four ADN nursing students travelled from Panola College with their instructor, Dr. Barbara Cordell to southern Belize, Central America to participate in a college course in Transcultural Nursing. The students chosen were: Denise Armstead, from Lufkin, who graduated in May from the LVN-ADN Transition track, Hannah Taylor Black, of Beckville and Chelsey Smith of DeBerry, who have completed Level III of the program, and Ivan Cuellar, of Henderson, who has completed Level II. They joined a team of 50 other doctors, nurses, students, and helpers to provide medical care to remote Mayan villages.
After arriving in Belize City, the group drove many hours to reach the small town of Punta Gorda. From there, the group divided into four teams and visited a total of sixteen villages in four days to attend to over 2000 patients. Several of the teams had to hike for one to three hours to reach their assigned village. “The students were wonderful at providing nursing assessments and treatments in challenging conditions,” said Professor Cordell. “We worked in a very hot environment without electricity, running water, or much of the technology we’re used to in the United States. The students learned to rely on basic observation skills and culturally sensitive communications and education.”
The larger group based out of Nacogdoches has been traveling on this mission trip for thirty-one years. The goal is to provide care to remote villagers who might not otherwise receive any medical care at all. Basic pain medications, antibiotics, and vitamins are provided as well as minor treatments such as wound care, splinting, and even occasional stitches for a severe cut.
Hannah said of her experience, “The patients taught each of us a lesson in humility and gratefulness. A piece of my heart will forever remain in four remote villages of southern Belize”.
Hannah Black and Denise Armstead teaching through a translator
Chelsey Smith assessing a patient with guidance from Dr. Cordell
Ivan Cuellar educating a patient
(l-r) Hannah Black, Dr. Barbara Cordell, Ivan Cuellar, Chelsey Smith, and Denise Armstead