Nursing Grad Students Take Free Clinic To Mexican Barrios And Orphanage

  • News Photo 1356
    A young patient studies the smile of student nurse Claudia Aguilar.
  • News Photo 1358
    The team brought all supplies for the clinic and stored them at an outdoor table.
  • News Photo 1357
    Dr. Amy Roberts examines two patients.
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    Dental exams are a rare luxury in a barrio.
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    Children receive new toothbrushes and a lesson on how to use them.
May 8, 2003

by Judy Long

A mobile clinic rolled into Nuevo Laredo, Mexico in March with Baylor University graduate nursing students eager to serve two barrios and an orphanage with four days of free medical and dental care, along with spiritual guidance.

The six master's students, all in their last semester in the family nurse practitioner (FNP) program at the Louise Herrington School of Nursing took part in the clinic. They were joined by three students from George W. Truett Theological Seminary, two nursing faculty members, Dr. Amy Roberts and Dr. Lisa Taylor, and 26 volunteers from the Dallas-Ft. Worth area to offer the four-day clinic. Among the volunteers were two dentists and a hygienist, who enabled the clinic to offer dental as well as medical care.

The clinic was set up in a small church with makeshift "walls" of sheets hung from portable curtain rods. Outside on the bare dirt, a supply table held the team's medicines, supplies and instruments.

The lawn chairs, which served as dental chairs, did not deter the clientele, who appreciated the rare opportunity to see a dentist. Children sat outside in groups to receive new toothbrushes and lessons on how to use them.

Roberts, a senior lecturer who teaches health care and missions, a course in the FNP program that trains nurses how to run a mobile health care clinic, said the group worked in collaboration with a Mexican physician who agreed to provide follow-up care. "This was a good set up, as we could leave medications for long-term-care patients with him," she said.

"We took our own lab and got immediate results on cholesterol blood counts, chemistries, EKGs and other basic lab work. For tests that do not provide immediate results, we were able to send through the Mexican government health care system."

During the four days of operation, the clinic provided medical care for 354 patients, 125 dental patients, filled more than 800 prescriptions and saw 11 people make a commitment to Christ.

The Louise Herrington School of Nursing has a tradition of sending student nurses across the border for cross-cultural experience and the opportunity to use their skills for underserved people. Another goal is to teach students how to operate a mobile clinic and reach across cultural lines.

The 2003 trip aimed to provide for the long-term needs for the people whose lives were touched. Two local churches agreed to provide follow-up spiritual and discipleship care, in addition to the follow-up from the local doctor.

The experience reaffirmed the nursing students' desires to serve through their work and lives and to influence other parts of the world. "It was cool to meet both physical and spiritual needs, just like Christ did," said April Hutto, who will graduate from the family nurse practitioner program in May 2004.

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