Denver College of Nursing Students Care for over 400 Burmese Patients in Myanmar

Wednesday, June 8, 2016 1:04 PM

Four Denver College of Nursing (DCN) students and one DCN faculty member provided six days of healthcare in Myanmar, helping hundreds of Burmese, many of whom had never before seen a healthcare provider, said Marguerite Distel, RN, DCN assistant professor and academic coordinator for DCN’s Global Health Perspectives (GHP) program.

Teaming with the Loveland, CO-based nonprofit International Medical Relief (IMR), which works with universities across the country to help medical students participate in medical mission trips, DCN and IMR worked with a nurse from Singapore and a general surgeon from Nepal to triage, assess and educate approximately 100 people per day in a six-day clinical tour that traveled to remote villages outside the capital city of Yangon.

Myanmar is recovering from Cyclone Nargis, one of the world’s deadliest tropical cyclones, where the UN estimates 2.4 million people were affected, 84,500 people were killed and 53,800 went missing.

DCN students Alyssa Benjamin, Daya Bhakta, Lauren Bliel and Jill Lysengen were accompanied by Julie Lohre, DCN adjunct faculty and nurse practitioner. Together, they also reviewed oral healthcare with and gave free toothbrushes to the Burmese; adults chew a tree root mixed with tobacco and give children candy at bedtime which deteriorates the health of their gums and tooth enamel.

“We focused on acute major illnesses, which included treating people suffering from chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension. We treated people for dehydration, musculoskeletal and respiratory disorders. Others we referred to the closest local hospital for disease education and physician referral,” Lohre explained.

“Students prepared interactive presentations for the villagers. Helped by translators, our education focused on hygiene and the importance of proper handwashing. We taught them about the ease of solar disinfection of water, where heat and UV rays kill 90 percent of disease-causing pathogens. And, because of the intense heat and humidity of their climate, we emphasized the necessities of rehydration and the maintenance of hydration during their long working days,” Lohre added.