The patients were so appreciative
New Rochelle, NY (Vocus) March 26, 2010
When Regine Jean-Pierre, a Haitian-American nurse at United Hebrew of New Rochelle’s long-term home health program, heard news of the devastating January 12th earthquake in Haiti, she imagined her experience in working with ill patients and her knowledge of Creole and French might be useful in her ancestral home. But she could not find the courage to go there, until organizers from her religious organization called for medical volunteers a few weeks after the quake.
Taking a two-week leave from her job at United Hebrew of New Rochelle’s long-term home health program, Regine paired up with her mother, a nurse raised in Haiti, to join a team of doctors and nurses traveling last month from locations around the U.S. to the Dominican Republic. They brought along wound-care products and emergency medical supplies. After riding six hours by bus to Port-au-Prince, the volunteers began wound-care triage in a make-shift, one-room clinic in an office building, close to the earthquake’s epicenter.
Working three years as a long-term care home health nurse at United Hebrew of New Rochelle’s Westchester, NY campus, which includes a new nursing home and rehabilitation center, independent living and home health care services, Regine helps patients deal day-to-day with illness or recovery. What she has learned at United Hebrew about caring for the chronically ill was extra-ordinarily valuable on site in Haiti. But Regine never imagined the extent of pain and suffering she would witness in the aftermath of the quake. Most of her patients had severe wounds, such as head injuries caused by the impact of cement ceilings that fell in the quake; others, whose crushed arms or legs had to be amputated, needed constant wound care and dressing changes. A young girl, whose right arm had been amputated, needed help coping with that loss and re-learning how to write.
“The patients were so appreciative,” Regine says. “We helped them with their psychological wounds as much as their physical wounds.” Her knowledge of French and Creole was especially useful, for example, in explaining to patients how pain and antibiotic medications work.
“We are so proud of Regine and her dedication to helping the people of Haiti,” said Rita Mabli, President and CEO of United Hebrew. “She represents the truly caring and committed staff we have here at United Hebrew.”
Regine was struck by the heart-breaking conditions in Port-au-Prince. The tent cities do not shield people from rain, there are few if any toilet facilities, clean water is rarely available, and long lines at banks make it difficult for people to retrieve any money wired to them from relatives abroad. Thieves would prey on businesses by starting tsunami rumors and then robbing hastily evacuated buildings. She hopes her own aunt, who lives in Haiti and has begun the immigration process, will soon be able to join family members in the U.S.
Despite their trials, Regine’s Haitian patients impressed her with their resilience and strength. A 15-year-old boy had been trapped under rubble, was covered in blood from a huge wound, and was suffering from severe infections, but he insisted that Regine teach him how to care for his own wound. The power of the Haitians to rebound and recover has given this American-born nurse a new perspective on her life here. “The Haitians have nothing. There is not one person who was not affected. The rich and poor are all living together in tent cities; they are all trying to get back on their feet,” Regine observed. “We need to appreciate what we have. Do not get attached to things, because things will not last. This kind of disaster could happen anywhere.”
As one of the many dedicated nurses and medical care professionals on staff at United Hebrew of New Rochelle, Regine exemplifies the culture of care and concern that prevails at this premiere not-for-profit residential complex offering multi-level services for seniors. United Hebrew is located at 391 Pelham Road, New Rochelle, New York 10805. For further information, please contact Linda Forman at 914.632.2804 x1224 or visit http://www.uhgc.org.
About United Hebrew of New Rochelle:United Hebrew is a vibrant not-for-profit, non-sectarian, multi-service senior living campus serving the Westchester, New York metropolitan area since 1919. On its Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Campus, United Hebrew offers a rich array of skilled and community-based programs and services that encourages and supports a life of dignity and spirituality and promotes the highest possible quality of life. United Hebrew serves over 600 clients daily in its campus facilities -- Willow Towers Assisted Living residence; a 296-bed nursing home and rehabilitation center staffed with Burke Rehabilitation professionals; the 135-unit Soundview Apartments for seniors; a Long Term Home Health Care Program; and the AZOR Home Health Agency. United Hebrew recently opened its new home, which combines world class care with state-of-the-art features.