Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Caring for Injured Earthquake Victims Leaves Little Time for Rest

"The hardest thing for me happened right at the beginning of my rotation," says Project HOPE volunteer Betty Fish-Ferguson. "All of a sudden I had to take care of this tiny little body in front of me which just came out of surgery, a 2-month-old baby-girl who was severely injured on her head during the earthquake," explains the 53-year-old nurse from Providence Milwaukee Hospital in Oregon. "I never had such a young patient coming out of surgery. It made me a little nervous."

Betty is one of 32 Project HOPE volunteer nurses and doctors who traveled from the U.S. to Haiti to help the medical staff on the USNS Comfort taking care of Haitian earthquake victims.

Betty has been assigned to the post anesthesia care unit on the Comfort. There are up to 60 surgeries a day performed in the 11 operating rooms on the ship. Two of the operating rooms are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"My shift starts at noon and ends at midnight," she says. "Seven days of the week. I make sure patients who were just operated wake up safely and are stable before send back to their units. I have about 8 to 10 patients a day."

"I remember myself and nurses back home complaining about long shifts sometimes. Well I guess that won't happen again anytime soon," she adds with a smile."

Betty noticed the exhaustion among the Navy nurses and physicians who have been treating patients for weeks without much of a break and very little sleep. "Even though we have arrived I still see many of them continuing there shifts and not getting much rest," she says. "I think we need more volunteers here, people can't go on like this for good."

Betty signed up as a volunteer immediately after the earthquake struck Haiti. "I am a Naval reservist but never had a chance to serve on the USNS Comfort. I volunteered many times before but this one is very special in many ways and one of those is that I am finally on this hospital ship."


  1. Hi Betty,
    nice work I hope you get enough rest to function well. Kraig anfd family

  2. You are amazing Betty! My HERO!
    ~Laura Ferguson

  3. Hi Betty,

    Thought you might be in Haiti with the reserves but this awesome that you voluteered with Project Hope, found out yesterday. Hope to hear about this in your Christmas letter. The best to you, stay well, I'll be talking with your family.
    God Bless, Your cuz Janet and family.