Vermont Nurses Travel to Rwanda with Team Heart

nurses visit rwandaThree Fletcher Allen nurses will be joining Team Heart for their 2014 trip to Rwanda this year – a first in the history of the organization, and an exciting adventure for Lili Bischof, Mark Sgantas and Nicholas Martin.  

Rwanda has 11 million people – and no standing heart surgery program.   Team Heart includes over 40 volunteers from around the U.S. The three nurses, all of whom work on Shepardson 3 North, will work in the step-down care area, helping patients who are recovering from open heart surgery. For Lili, travelling abroad to provide health care is not an entirely new experience – as a nursing student she visited Marrakesh, where she worked in a hospital and a health care clinic. Nick Martin has worked in the Peace Corps. And Mark Sgantas, who, in addition to being an RN at Fletcher Allen for over two decades is also a fire chief in Stowe, has assisted in the wake of such humanitarian disasters as Hurricane Katrina and Tropical Storm Sandy. 

nickFor each of them, it’s a way to combine what they love about their work on Shep 3 North with their sense of adventure.“I’ve always been fascinated with the human heart and how it works,” says Mark. “And I enjoy helping patients post-surgery, seeing them get well enough to go home and live their lives.” For Lili, it’s all about connecting with her patients – here and in Rwanda. “Because of the way our shifts work on Shep 3 North, we really get to see our patients progress through their experience with us.” 

And for Nick Martin, going to Rwanda represents a continuation of what drew him to the Peace Corps. After that experience, he decided to go to nursing school.  He will be working in the step-down area with Lili and Mark. “I’m really interested in helping critically ill patients,” he says, “and I’m excited about helping people where there is such a need.” 

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