Thursday, September 2, 2010

Faye Pyles Completes Pacific Partnership Mission

Faye Pyles is a pediatric nurse practitioner from Norfolk, Virginia, a four-time Project HOPE volunteer and retired after 25 years service with the U.S. Navy. During the Pacific Partnership 2010 mission, Faye served as HOPE’s Chief Nursing Officer and Operations Officer in Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia. Even as the rest of the HOPE volunteers returned home in August, Faye stayed on, working with those in need in Timor Leste. Here is a blog she wrote before leaving the USNS Mercy on August 31.

The trip from Darwin began as the trip from Guam. Calm seas, new faces, new roommates, and a new sense of anticipated adventures. However, as I walked around the decks of the Mercy there was a sense of something being missing. The ever present Project HOPE T-shirts, the usually smiling faces and the always entertaining company at meal time was absent. The stories of where they had been and how their days had gone were now silent. Just as Team One had left a little of their spirit behind so did Team Two, and for this I am grateful. I know we all have some pleasant memories that elicit smiles as we think of one of our unique team mates and their entertaining stories. My first mission as a Project HOPE operations officer was blessed with some extraordinary volunteers who made even the most trying days worthwhile.

As the Mercy left Project HOPE Team Two in Darwin to experience their own Australian adventures we pressed on towards Timor Leste. The crew has become aware that there is now not a full PH team. I now have heard many versions of the same phrase. Many people have commented to me that Mercy is left with little HOPE, minimal HOPE, just a small ray of HOPE, and soon will be HOPEless. I am trying to catalogue all the different versions of the same joke, if for nothing else then at least for my own amusement.

The first MEDCAPs in Timor Leste were exciting. I finally was able to see patients and actually do what I usually do on these missions. Though the site was dusty, and hot I was thrilled to be finally in the field. I felt a sense of coming home as I turned to the first patients in Timor and as I introduced myself asked, "How can I help you today?" The children and their parents were a pleasure to see.

The only drawback was one all providers wrestled with on this mission, CHIMES. I do not even text message, much less have a Black Berry or a Palm Pilot. So needless to say I spent more than a little time trying to get a sense of how to actually look at the patient rather than the little screen and how to manage to actually send the prescriptions to pharmacy without exiting the program twice before that was accomplished. I am pleased to say that I overcame CHIMES to actually have a great experience in the two days I was out in spite of technology. I was not the most productive provider, but that has never been a major concern of mine in these settings.

Never the less by the end of the first day I had elicited smiles from some of our many crying little children (at one point the count was six small screaming children in the pediatric room at the same time, quite a chorus) and expressions of relief from their parents as I assured them their child's heart sounded strong and their lungs were fine, and that their concerns had been heard. At the end of these long days the smiles we receive and the words of comfort that we provide are to me the essence of why we come on these missions. I look forward to the end of the week when I have three more days at another school. The adventure continues.

Faye Pyles, HOPE’s Chief Nursing Officer and Operations Officer during the entire Pacific Partnership 2010 mission.

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