We just got off the conference call – a huge conference call – with the NNU RN Rapid Response Network (RNRN) which is mobilizing a force of over 4,000 RN volunteers to travel to Haiti to help with relief efforts. Here’s what was asked – here’s what was said in reply.
- I’ve registered at www.nationalnursesunited.org to get on the volunteer list. Now what happens? Currently the RNRN is sorting through all of the applications choosing the nurses who have the best skill set needed at this time. As your name is selected, you will be called with logistical details. In the meantime, all relevant news will be posted at www.nationalnursesunited.org.
- Do I need a passport? Yes. Although there is some work being done towards waiving passport regulations, that has not happened at this time.
- What vaccinations will I need? You absolutely MUST have the following: Hepatitis B with A strongly recommended; typhoid; tetanus and malaria pills. However, do not run out and get these immediately. You will have time after you are called to get the vaccinations.
- What can I expect in Haiti? As someone on the conference call stated, “This is not a mission for the faint of heart.” Conditions will be rough. You may be sleeping on the ground. There will be an orientation session before leaving to get nurses accustomed to a different culture and what to expect. There will be cases of dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, problems brought on lack of sanitation, emotional trauma especially in children, HIV, AIDS, you name it. Most Haitians speak French Creole so there will possibly be a language barrier.
- What skills should I put on my application? Healthy, strong nurses are needed and experience with trauma is helpful. Nurses with military backgrounds and who can speak French are high on the list. The advance team, which leaves on Saturday, is partnering with numerous Haitian-American nurses from Miami.
- How long would I need to be gone from work? Approximately 7-10 days.
- Will we be safe in Haiti? One of the reasons RNRN isn’t filling a plane and heading to Haiti today is because a secure site has not been set up yet for the nurses. A RNRN priority is to make sure that nurses it takes into a disaster relief area have protection while practicing nursing. Because the focus in Haiti is currently on search-and-rescue, getting the site prepared takes a little time. RNRN wants nurses to go as a group, stay together as a group, and come home as a group.
- Will I be practicing outside of my specialty? Very likely. There are a wide range of injuries being reported.
- Do I need a nursing license for Haiti? No. Haiti does not have a nurse practice act or anything that would interfere with your nursing license. As long as your license is current and in good standing, you won’t need additional paperwork.
- I’m an LPN. Can I register? The answer is yes, but understand that the main focus will be on registered nurses. That being said, any help is appreciated!
- What can I do in the meantime while I wait to be called? Help raise money for the work relief. Talk to your hospital. Tell them you’ve volunteered and works toward making sure this is paid time off for you. Watch www.nationalnursesunited.org closely.
Everyone is chomping at the bit to get to Haiti. It’s so hard to look at those pictures of the victims and not think, “If I were there, I could help.” However, RNRN is counseling patience. “This is going to be a long road,” they say. “We can’t rush in there unprepared. We’ll be working in Haiti for a long time.” Meanwhile, RNRN is working night and day to get things in place as fast as possible.
We’ll be updating our Haiti relief page on the MNA website frequently with news from around Michigan and how nurses are supporting the Haitian people. You can link to the page from www.minurses.org. One of the links is a flier that can be printed off and posted at your workplace with good information regarding being a volunteer. There are also links and information to breaking news and ways to donate.
In one way or another, everyone’s help is needed!