Denver College of Nursing Students Provide Health Care Education to Six Peru Villages

Tuesday, February 28, 2017 2:58 PM

Students Provide 12 Days of medical visits, screenings, and vaccines to Peruvians 

Four Denver College of Nursing (DCN) students and one DCN faculty member, a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP), provided healthcare and education to hundreds of Peruvians during their twelve-day trip to Iquitos, Peru. 

The school’s Global Health Perspectives program (GHP) partnered with DB Peru, a non-profit organization working in the lower Napo River region of the Peruvian Amazon, to improve living conditions for the people of Peru by providing health care and education. 

DCN student, Natasha Heiland, said, “When we visited the villages, we took a boat loaded with several doctors, volunteer nurses, and medical equipment. We set up the clinics in the school house of each village. Because the villages are so remote, they don’t have health facilities; the nearest hospital is hours away by boat”. 

DCN students Anne Burnett, Airi Busam, Natasha Heiland, and Brittany Rosner were accompanied by Sue Hammerton, RN, WHNP. Students conducted 180 medical visits, administered 80 vaccines, and screened 73 women for cervical cancer. HPV is the virus that causes human papillomavirus, one of the most common sexually transmitted infections; HPV immunizations were administered to 20 young women, which was a new vaccination to rural Peru. 

“We gave antibiotics for infections, administered anti-parasitic drugs, provided wound care, treated dehydration and provided screenings and education regarding breast exams, HPV, and cervical cancer”, said Natasha Heiland. “We saw four unusual cases, including a child with osteomyelitis, an infection of the bone, a woman who had broken her arm two months ago and it healed twisted, a man with Lymphogranuloma Venereum, an uncommon infection of the lymph system, and a woman with ascites, an accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity which had occurred after a very high fever”, recalls Sue Hammerton. 

A health fair and soccer tournament was held by DB Peru, and Peruvians from several surrounding villages traveled for hours to attend. Students provided health screenings, administered vaccines, and provided first aid. Additionally, Sue Hammerton and the students taught a class on “The Golden Minute” to a group of Peruvian midwives to teach interventions to help struggling newborns breathe in the first minute of life. Anne Burnett recalls, “The villagers were so appreciative and excited to learn and receive health care that it made every second we were in Peru valuable and worthwhile”.