Global Health Initiative

Honduras service trip

The twelfth College of Nursing Honduras mission took place in March, 2012. The project has expanded from a small trip of three people and a community assessment to a full-fledged health care mission to the people of Honduras. The mission works with a large non-governmental organization (NGO) as well as the College of Nursing to assure a productive, safe, hands-on experience.

There are two major sites for our mission. The first is working with the residents of the municipal dump in Tegucigalpa, the capital city. The clinic is held at the school where they now have about 250 students. Patients are seen for a variety of health concerns, as well as for annual well-women examinations. We have seen an improvement in the health of this population. Many of the women are now seeking well-woman care on their own and there are fewer children who are not immunized. There also has been a nurse added to the staff of the school—the benefits are really evident. She’s been doing wonderful things tracking the health of the children and making sure that they have what they need for immunizations and follow up of any health problems.

For the third year, the second part of the trip takes place in Choluteca, which is in the southwestern part of the country. Unlike northern Honduras, Choluteca is a desert-like environment that has still to recover fully from the ravages of Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Here we have students who work in the local hospital modeling appropriate nursing care. In addition, our students present in-service education for the hospital staff, including training in CPR and standard infection precautions.

Our primary care master’s students have the opportunity to hold clinics at several sites in Choluteca and some of the surrounding communities where health care is minimally accessible. Some of the undergraduate students accompany this group to perform intake assessment, diabetes screening, hypertension screening, and childhood assessment. As patients who need further care are identified, referrals are made to a local Honduran physician who has worked with the group for several years. Interpreters from the local international school work with us to provide translations for providers who do not speak Spanish.

Our health visitor program is now three years old and we’ve been able to expand their education from just hypertension monitoring to glucose surveillance and now some help to the lay midwives who are operating in the rural villages. This year we brought pressure cookers and supplies so that they can sterilize their equipment. We also worked on teaching some better aseptic techniques and better handwashing. We hope that this will improve outcomes and the lay midwives were very receptive.

We also had a clinic in the dump school in Choluteca for the third year in a row. This outreach now includes a well-child clinic that is run by the PNPs and students. In addition we have well-woman exams and acute visits.

All of the members of the group provide health promotion posters in Spanish for the health fairs that are held at the local vocational school. These health fairs were attended by more than 150 people. Our resident contact in Honduras is Angie Overholt, MS, CFNP, who is a graduate of both our RN to BSN and master’s degree programs. She is the only certified nurse practitioner in Honduras.
Requirements for participation in the trip, which is generally held during finals week of the winter quarter:
• Junior or senior nursing student in good academic standing
• Second or third year graduate entry student in family, adult, or pediatric specialty
• Master’s student in the same set of specialties (It is highly recommended that the NP students be in their N859 rotations to have maximum benefit from the trip)
• A positive reference from a faculty person who has supervised one of their clinical courses
Application is made in November and final decisions are made by early December. Students are responsible for the cost of the trip, typically around $1,600. They must attend orientation sessions and a packing day before we travel. Students are required to have current immunizations and have malaria prophylaxis for the trip. Students should not have any medical or emotional conditions that will require special care during the trip. Students should be able to tolerate dust, heat, travelling over the mountains in a school bus, and living conditions that are not luxurious.

The faculty selection committee reserves the right to make selection of the student participants. All participants are required to pass a background check and purchase travel insurance from The Ohio State University.

Students are responsible for negotiating with their instructors about completing the finals that are scheduled during the Honduras trip week. All participants are required to sign a mission agreement statement with the supporting NGO.

The point of contact for the Honduran mission at the College of Nursing is Dr. Elizabeth Barker,

The video clip below features Dr. Elizabeth Barker, Dr. Kathleen Stone and student Anja Brokau shortly after their return from the 2010 Honduras trip in an appearance on "Daytime Columbus" on NBC4.