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Nurse serves in Sierra Leone

Nurse serves in Sierra Leone

Kaye Farinella, RN, Olathe, Kan., spent eight weeks aboard a Mercy Ship, a floating hospital, in Sierra Leone, West Africa, this spring. Mercy Ships provide surgeries for people who otherwise cannot afford procedures. Farinella, a ward nurse, cared for patients after their surgeries.  (Photo: Kaye Farinella, BSN, Olathe, took her skills across the world just as the crocus bloomed.)

The semi-retired nurse spent seven weeks in Sierra Leone, West Africa, aboard a Mercy Ship, a floating hospital.

“Mainly because I just felt there was more that I could be doing as a nurse,” she said. “I believe nursing is my calling. There are just worlds of people out there you can help.”

The semi-retired nurse found spiritual satisfaction helping patients from small villages who had been shunned because they had club feet, cleft palates or tumors. Farinella said afflicted people are left in isolation by neighbors who believe debilitating growths or disabilities symbolize spiritual curses rather than physical problems.

“It was definitely very rewarding, the spiritual fulfillment I found,” she said. “The patients there are so grateful and happy that they have a better quality of life now.”

As a ward nurse aboard a floating hospital that provides free surgeries, Farinella used her bedside skills to care for patients after surgical procedures. Farinella said the hospital ward is a single room where patients recover. Hundreds of patients from villages in Sierra Leone lined up for screening, hoping to qualify for a surgery.

Farinella currently works part time as an agency nurse, filling in at hospitals throughout the area. She has worked in mother-baby care, the emergency room, gastrointestinal, medical-surgical and women’s health and plans to continue using her skills one way or another.

Patients, caregivers, nurses and day volunteers dance together in the ward on Mercy Ship, ported in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Kaye Farinella, Olathe, Kan., RN, not pictured, served as a ward nurse for eight weeks on the floating hospital assisting with post-operative patients.

“I’ve worked in about every field of nursing,” she said.

Farinella raised her own fees for passage on the Mercy Ship. All volunteers pay for their own housing and food, which costs $650 per month, she said. Farinella said volunteers from every vocation are needed. She met people from all over the world who volunteered as cooks, housecleaners, health care providers, photographers, videographers, maintenance and more. She said her husband’s career in communications will translate to a position on a Mercy Ship.

“My husband and I are getting close to retirement,” she said. “We’re sort of in the market where we can dedicate time in the retirement years. That way we’re not just working in the yard or sitting on the couch or playing golf. We’re out making a difference after we retire.”

While in Sierra Leone, Farinella worked three to four days at a time, then took time off to explore the country. She ate at quaint restaurants, kicked back on the beach and soaked up the culture.

“It’s very beautiful,” she said. “You can set your own schedule.”

She said volunteers can stay anywhere from two weeks to two years and help in whatever capacity they choose.

Kaye Farinella, Olathe, Kan., RN, boarded a floating hospital this spring and used her skills in Sierra Leone, West Africa. For eight weeks, Farinella provided post-operative care to patients who received surgeries for cleft palates, tumors and orthopedic problems.

“You make really close friends,” she said. “I loved it. I’ll definitely go back and do it once a year.”

Shane St. Clair, a nurse anesthetist with Minimally Invasive Surgery Hospital, Lenexa, enjoyed keeping up with Farinella’s photos and Facebook entries she posted during her trip. St. Clair worked with Farinella for five years at Minimally Invasive Surgery Hospital. Knowing how involved Farinella is with her church and family, he was surprised at her lengthy stay, but not her commitment.

“There needs to be more people in the world like her that would be able to give that much time out of their life,” St. Clair said.

St. Clair said as a nurse anesthetist he always appreciated the care Farinella gave to patients.

“I loved it when she was the one that was going to be taking care of the patients because I never had any concerns,” he said. “She’s an excellent nurse, good bedside manner, good skills, very personable. The patients liked her.”

St. Clair said Farinella took her bedside manner to Sierra Leone.

“She would show compassion to other people,” he said.

Courtesy of  Linda Friedel, Sun Publications

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