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Program lets nurses help themselves, help others, and help the profession

Pete FowlerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. Pat Guenther has big plans for nurses. The Glenwood Springs resident is starting a new, locally based nonprofit company, Nurses with a Purpose. She plans to send nurses around the world to help areas with inadequate medical care and rejuvenate the nursing community.Nurses with a purpose provides an “opportunity to be locally involved in something that’s affecting people on the other side of the planet,” Guenther said.Guenther returned from a trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Christmas day. She’d been scouting potential sites to send nurses. She met a boy infected with HIV. For the cost of 10 cents, medication could have been given to his mother during birth, she said. It would have reduced his risk of contracting the disease by 90 percent – if only someone had been there to administer it. She saw long lines of people waiting outside clinics for days to see a doctor.Guenther said an ABC crew accompanied her to film a documentary about dysentery, but was turned away at the country’s border. She said Ethiopian government officials didn’t want to have poor health conditions in the country publicized.

Nurses with a Purpose plans to send nurses to other locations as well, including U.S. locations like New Orleans, which was left without adequate staff after Hurricane Katrina. In the program, nurses would travel and work for one to four weeks. This would have the double benefit of providing additional health care where it is most needed and giving the nursing community a booster shot, according to Guenther.Nurses with a Purpose plans to send about 30 nurses to different sites in 2007 on a budget of approximately $500,000, but still needs additional funding, Guenther said.A trip to another location would reconnect nurses with the reason they got into nursing, Guenther said. Nurses enjoy actually putting their hands on people and the process of healing. They rarely have time to do things like hold a dying patient’s hand anymore, she said. The travel work, like a “field trip for nurses,” could also provide a fresh perspective. Professional development and new energy could transfer over to the rest of the staff at a hospital or clinic, she added. It allows nurses to do what they really love instead of getting bogged down in the red tape that accompanies the hospital business, she said.

“It’s just being there for somebody who’s sick,” she said. “You can really impact the experience for them. You can help them heal. I’m hoping more people in our society tap into that feeling.”According to Nurses with a Purpose advisory board member Lynne Jammaron, it’s a “win-win” situation for both nurses and hospitals. Morale at hospitals would increase and would be able to recruit and retain nurses better with the help of the nonprofit, while providing health care to areas most in need.”It’s good for their bottom line,” she said.If a hospital said it would send nurses on this trip, nurses would want to work there, Guenther said.The company’s Web site says its mission is to “provide nurses with opportunities for professional training and development; with participation in programs that educate, support and improve health care for humanity on a local, national and international level.”Nurses with a Purpose also has a scholarship fund that is administered through Colorado Mountain College as funds become available, Guenther said.

Nurses with a Purpose is awaiting tax-exempt status and is looking for sponsors, donations and more potential project sites. Businesses are encouraged to donate items for the fundraising auction on Jan. 13. For more information, visit http://www.nurseswithpurpose.org or call 945-4888. Contact Pete Fowler: 945-8515, ext. 16611 pfowler@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO


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