Proctorville native showing she cares

Published 10:03 am Friday, February 6, 2009

RIO GRANDE — Heather Leffingwell of Proctorville is one of two nursing students from the University of Rio Grande who will be spending two weeks in the Philippines in February as part of a medical mission trip.

Leffingwell and Amber See of Point Pleasant, are taking part in Operation We Care 2009.

Operation We Care is an annual event that takes medical professionals and non-medical professionals to the Philippines to provide free medical care. In recent years, Rio Grande students have also taken part in the trip in order to provide a public service while also gaining experience working with medical professionals.

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The goal of the trip is to improve the health and lives of underprivileged people in the Philippines who have limited or no access to the most basic medical health and the necessities of life, especially in the far-flung villages and squatter districts.

The trip is designed to provide free surgeries, treatments and other types of medical care for those in need.

The medical professionals on the trip include general surgeons, thoracic and vascular surgeons, anesthesiologists, anesthetists, reconstructive and plastic surgeons, cardiologists, interns, dental surgeons, dental hygienists, nurses, operating room nurses, surgical technicians and pharmacists. The non-medical professionals include teachers, accountants, statisticians and computer analysts.

The trip this year will be held from Feb. 12 through Feb. 25,

“It’s a great opportunity to really be able to do some good,” Leffingwell said.

Leffingwell and See are both studying in the BSN program in the Holzer School of Nursing at Rio Grande, and are both Registered Nurses working in the community.

The medical mission trip will give them the chance to work in nursing areas that they usually do not focus on in their daily jobs, and they are looking forward to working in these different areas.

“It will be a very good learning experience,” Leffingwell said. For example, on the trip they will be assisting with surgeries and doing pre-operational work.

While they are on the trip, See and Leffingwell will talk through a video-link with other nursing students at Rio Grande.

See and Leffingwell hope to be able to discuss the type of work they are doing and the medical issues they see with different patients.