By Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief
So another Nurses Week winds down and many nurses have been acknowledged for the fine work they do. But I think more recognition should be given to nurses who go above and beyond their usual nursing work and volunteer to help those in dire circumstances. This month in AJN, one of the two CE articles is called “Responding to the Cholera Epidemic in Haiti.” It details the work of one organization and its nurses. Here’s the overview:
While Haiti was still recovering from the January 12, 2010, magnitude-7 earthquake, an outbreak of cholera spread throughout the nation, soon reaching epidemic proportions. Working through the faith-based nongovernmental organization Samaritan’s Purse, an NP, an epidemiologist, and a physician joined the effort to prevent the spread of disease and treat those affected. Here they describe the prevention and intervention campaigns their organization initiated, how they prepared for each, and the essential elements of their operations.
The article provides essential information about such topics as setting up cholera treatment centers, assessment, rehydration priorities, prevention, enlisting family members in monitoring fluid intake and outtake, and the use of oral antibiotics. Near the conclusion, the authors have this to say about their heightened awareness of the difference fundamental nursing care can make in such settings:
The three of us were profoundly affected by the rapid progression and overwhelming effects of cholera in people who had been well just hours earlier. Fortunately, when cholera infection is managed correctly, its resolution is as dramatic as its onset. Few diseases that are as devastating and can kill as abruptly as cholera can be so quickly and successfully managed.