Thursday, June 4, 2009

Project HOPE Volunteer Recognized for Outstanding Patient Care

For HOPE volunteer Tauna-Louise Ainslie, going above and beyond is just another day's work.

For 10 years, Tauna has worked two nursing jobs on the Hawaiian island of O'ahu: one, as a crisis nurse at Queens Medical Trauma Center, a state-of-the-art facility serving the entire Pacific Rim, and a second as a nurse at Kahuku Medical Center on the North Shore, a rural, six-bed ER near her home, working one-on-one with the ER's sole doctor to ensure that residents of that area have access to quality urgent care.

"I love my two jobs," Tauna said. "I like helping people--making a difference, however small. A good save, after you've spent hours working on a patient...that's fantastic."

Tauna's commitment to nursing made her want desperately to assist the relief efforts after the Southeast Asian Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, but her jobs could not spare her. So when, this year, she finally was able to take time off, she did something that distinguishes her even among HOPE's volunteers: she offered to serve for all four months of Operation Continuing Promise.

Life aboard the USNS Comfort has required some adjustment by Tauna. A self-described "free spirit," Tauna marvels at the regimented lives that sailors, airmen, soldiers, and Marines lead and makes no secret of how alien the military lifestyle is from her own.

Nevertheless, she has earned the respect and admiration of her military colleagues. On May 29, Tauna was only the second civilian volunteer--the first also came from Project HOPE--to be named Person of the Day by Continuing Promise's commanding officers. The award recognized not just Tauna's weeks of service, but the particular way her creativity and commitment had touched the life of a Panamanian girl.

Earlier that week, Tauna was working at Roberto Mariano Stadium, the largest of the several medical sites being run by Comfort personnel. As the work-day was drawing to a close, she noticed that there wouldn't be enough time to see all women's health patients. Many had been waiting to see a doctor since daybreak, and Tauna understood that for most, this was their one chance for medical attention. So Tauna re-interviewed and re-triaged as many patients as possible--not once, but twice. Those with flu, fever, and other general illnesses she sent to the general medicine unit. Those with specific women's health needs, she kept in line and worked to speed them through to the doctors.

One of the women who stayed in line was a teenager carrying her seven-month-old baby. She told Tauna she thought she was pregnant again. Her eyes told Tauna how fearful she was. Tauna made sure she got a pregnancy test, and went about helping other patients. Several hours later, the young mother timidly tapped Tauna's shoulder. Her test was positive, and she looked distraught. Her family had kicked her out, and her babies' fathers had abandoned her. She lived in a neighborhood that volunteers and aid agencies dared not enter. She was desperate.

Tauna feared how this young mother would cope but knew she couldn't help her directly. The Comfort would pull-up anchor and depart Panama in just a short time, and the girl's needs were longer-term. So instead Tauna brought the girl's case to the attention of a local NGO--one whose volunteers normally couldn't enter the girl's neighborhood. They immediately saw what Tauna saw, and understood that the girl's plight deserved an exception.
They would send volunteers to her home, they told her, and would bring her food, clothing, and financial support for her family.

For the girl, this was a life-line. She was filled with gratitude, she told Tauna, and more than that, she now felt a little bit of hope.


1 comment:

  1. it seems like two life times ago or maybe just were always one to make a compasionate difference to peoples lives.we are so proud of you love kim & michelle slarke