News, Events & GHP

Denver College of Nursing students, faculty assist in pediatric open heart surgeries in Honduras

Wednesday, June 17, 2015 8:39 PM

Five Denver College of Nursing (DCN) students, accompanied by two faculty members, completed the second DCN Global Health Perspectives healthcare internship in Honduras, supporting The Friends of Barnabas Foundation and its comprehensive pediatric cardiac program, The Little Hearts Project, said Dr. Marcia Bankirer, president, Denver College of Nursing (

In partnership with local Honduran health providers, The Little Hearts Project provides patient care case management for patients with cardiac defects and diseases, including pre-op and post-operative care, and follow-up care for children from throughout Honduras.

To facilitate the training of Honduran healthcare professionals, DCN’s Micah Hughes, assistant professor and director of the Global Health Perspectives (GHP) program, Avrey Hughes, adjunct professor and the pediatric intensive care unit nurse educator for Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, along with Dr. Mark Clay, assistant professor at Vanderbilt University, conducted cardiovascular training workshops for 18 Honduran nurses.
The training team used lecture, simulation and hands-on patient-care training for the nurses who came from three different hospitals in San Pedro Sulla. The nursing teams then provided treatment for 10 Honduran children who underwent open heart surgeries, conducted by Dr. Victor Paz, the only pediatric cardiovascular surgeon in Honduras, and Dr. Sashi Nakaido, a U.S. cardiovascular surgeon.

“All children recovered successfully from their open heart surgeries with a new future,” Hughes, DCN’s GHP director, said.

From DCN, nursing students Brenda Ayala, Heidi Falkner, Kat Hatcher, Nikki Kolb and Shannon Krajewski supported Honduran clinicians in the cardiovascular cath lab, in pre-operative patient and family education, in the operating room, in post-operative recovery and in pediatric intensive care.
“Seeing the Honduran nurses work so hard, often at two full-time jobs, with so much dedication, love and commitment changed my life,” said DCN’s Ayala. “This internship taught me about service learning. To me, it is the most satisfying way to learn through practicing my nursing skills and at the same time helping others in a transformative way.”

Friends of Barnabas provides healthcare services at no cost to those families without access, teaches preventative health education to children, parents and community members and empowers and improves the capacity of local healthcare providers. Founded by a United Methodist minister, Reverend Linwood Cook, The Friends of Barnabas Foundation began helping those in need in 2000. In 2006, the NGO’s work was furthered by Dr. Nakaido and Lori Cordova, RN, who started The Little Hearts project.