Saturday, July 4, 2009

HOPE Volunteer Charity Braden Caring for Post-Op Patients in El Salvador

In rural El Salvador, the local elementary school has been turned into a bustling hub of medical activity. Thousands of potential patients wait at the gates. Scores more are in the initial screening process, and dozens are seeing health care providers in what were, until two days ago, children’s classrooms. As patients see the specialist doctors here, those who require surgery are forwarded to one of the 6 OR’s operating just a few miles away.

Crossing those few miles, however, will require what will most likely be the ride of the patient’s life. A Navy SH-60 helicopter will pick up the pre-op patients later that day, and hustle them aboard the white-hulled Navy hospital ship, USNS Comfort, anchored 10 miles off the coast. They’ll spend the night aboard, with volunteer nurses managing their pre-operation medication and diet, before being operated on the next day. From the OR, they’ll go briefly to ICU, then to the post-op ward to spend the night before the helo ride home the following day.

Here, in on the post-op floor, Charity Braden, a Project HOPE volunteer nurse, listens to the heart, lungs, and abdomen of her six patients as she comes on shift. Her bright spirit and enthusiasm are infectious, and soon all her patients are smiling with her. Like nearly all of the nurses here, Charity is volunteering a month of her time to deliver humanitarian aid to the places it is most needed in the Americas. Her presence in post-op allows more patients to be sent through the OR’s more rapidly, upping the “operation tempo” of the entire ship.

“Its great to be in a place where I can come do some real good in the world,” says Charity. “I’ve been trying to get out on a mission like this for three years, and both my husband and I are beginning doctorate studies later this year, so its awesome that I could do it this time. This is my first humanitarian mission, but my goal is to volunteer around the world with my nursing skills.”

A North Carolina native who now lives in D.C. and works in the ICU at George Washington Hospital, Charity is looking forward to beginning her studies as a Nurse Practitioner and to getting out on more volunteer work.

“Project HOPE is one of the few NGO’s that do volunteerism as well as they do, and its been really powerful to be part of the cooperation going on between the military and humanitarian NGO’s. They really have huge logistical capability, and we bring the extra manpower and expertise to make this mission happen. I’m really glad to be a part of it.”

Thanks for reading-Jacob


  1. Charity Braden is my daughter-in-law. Given her bright spirits and positive outlook along with a high energy level, I have no doubt that she is contributing mightily to the goals of Project Hope.

    Go Charity!!!


  2. keep the good work.Good job!