While in school at UBC, Jeanine McColl, MPT’09 completed an interdisciplinary rural placement program which had a lasting impact on her future work and volunteer efforts. She traveled to Port McNeil for the placement with UBC students from medicine, nursing, and physical therapy, with the goal of learning the nuances of practice in their chosen fields in a rural setting.
Taking what she learned in her rural placement in Canada, Jeanine was interested in applying her knowledge, skills and experience internationally. In 2011, she went on her first international volunteer trip and traveled to Kenya for three weeks with Free the Children.
After this initial trip she got involved with Broken Earth, a medical aid project which was founded in Newfoundland, by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Andrew Furey. Broken Earth is a foundation that establishes volunteer teams composed of physicians, nurses, and physiotherapists from across Canada who travel to Haiti to support the relief effort and restore strength and hope to the Haitian people by providing highly skilled medical services. It has been three years since the devastating 2010 earthquake and the country is still recovering. Broken Earth is a joint venture with Project Medishare, which is an initiative from the University of Miami. Project Medishare has built a hospital in Haiti, which relies on international teams of physicians to help staff and support its daily operation.
Hospital Bernard Mevs in Port au Prince is a trauma centre and the only hospital that provides critical care in the country. The hospital is currently staffed with around 75% Haitian staff, and 25% international volunteers. Project Medishare’s goal is to teach and support local health care professionals to the point of total self- sufficiency in the future.
On each assignment McColl provides any physical rehabilitation care that is required for patients at the 50 bed hospital. Haiti currently has very few local Physical Therapists and with a national population of over 10 million, the need for qualified personnel is high.
Lack of resources including equipment, power, rooms, medication, follow up services, etc., are just as much an issue as lack of highly skilled staff. An entire class of graduating nursing students was lost because of the earthquake that demolished their school. The hospital has only two x-ray machines and there are no technicians in the country to repair them. If one must be serviced, someone must be flown in additional expense.
Looking forward, McColl would like to continue her international work and perhaps start a global health organization. She is currently training to complete a 143km bike ride in support of Project Stitch Haiti, an organization that teaches individuals with spinal cord injuries and amputees how to sew as a means to support their families. Among many beautiful items, they produce uniforms necessary for children to attend school. Their contributions to the community through the program help them gain self-esteem and earn respect, overcoming the significant existing stigma associated with being disabled in Haitian society. To support this life changing initiative please go to www.projectstitch.org
Recently, Jeanine was in Cuenca, Ecuador where she provided post-operative orthopedic care. She is planning to return with a medical team to Haiti this fall. She can be contacted at email@example.com with any questions.