‘Preach the gospel at all times – and if necessary use words’

• Homer nurse heads to Africa aboard Mercy ship

By Naomi Klouda
Homer Tribune

HOMER TRIBUNE/Naomi Klouda - Anna Dickerson was home for Christmas prior to leaving for her training trip to Texas.

HOMER TRIBUNE/Naomi Klouda - Anna Dickerson was home for Christmas prior to leaving for her training trip to Texas.

God has a plan for Anna Dickerson.
The 1998 Homer High School graduate and pediatric nurse at the Alaska Native Medical Center has no doubt of this, and continues to strive to fulfill her dreams of combining nursing work with mission work.
“The only way I can explain it is that God has this plan for me,” Dickerson said. “I like the personal contact, and when people are sick, there is the potential to make a good impact on them.”
Dickerson will board the ship, “Africa Mercy” in mid-February to begin providing free medical care aboard the “floating hospital.” Professionals from dozens of nations donate their services onboard the ship.
Dickerson said she has always had this seemingly irrational desire to work in an orphanage in Africa.
“I say irrational, because it was like that – ‘in Africa,’” she said. “It was a massive continent I’d never even visited – although I did have a map of it on my wall.
Dickerson said she remembers filling out nursing school applications and reading the question, “What motivated you to become a nurse?”
“I was always thinking, ‘Because I want to work in an orphanage in Africa,’” she explained. “And then, I would wonder how to make myself sound more grown up and responsible.”
Dickerson said the nursing work on the ship is also like a mission, where those onboard follow the ideal of working with the whole person. They strive to treat not only physical needs, but also emotional and spiritual ones.
“I will be sharing the good news – in the manner of St. Francis of Assisi, who once said: ‘Preach the gospel at all times – and if necessary use words,’” Dickerson said. “I will be joyously living out this passion that God has given me.”
According to Dickerson, the ship is a “more controlled environment, with an operating room that has power and supplies available.”
“That’s very important in unstable areas where the power might go out, or it might be hard to get supplies,” she added. “My job will be in the ship’s 78-bed hospital ward. I’ll be providing nursing care for pediatric and adult patients.”
Photo provided - The Africa Mercy is a traveling hospital that makes stops to treat the sick in ports around Africa.

Photo provided - The Africa Mercy is a traveling hospital that makes stops to treat the sick in ports around Africa.

The ship, Africa Mercy, ferried trains in another life, so the large deck offered a giant open area that is now converted to a hospital. The ship is based in West Africa, where health conditions are among the very worst in the world. Less than half of the population have access to healthcare. Dickerson said there are approximately 2 million people for every surgeon, and an estimated one in six women die from childbearing complications.
“Patients are admitted the night before their surgery and then stay as long as they need to recover,” Dickerson wrote on her blog annadickerson.blogspot.com. “The nurses work five, eight-hour shifts weekly, caring for 6-10 patients. I’ll be doing nurse things like changing dressings, giving antibiotics, managing post-op pain, and providing tube feedings, as well as physical therapy, dietary and basic health education.”
Dickerson is still trying to raise money for the trip, and is soliciting donations through a newsletter and on her Web site. The money is need to support her while she works aboard the ship for the next two years.

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Posted by on Jan 6th, 2010 and filed under Feature. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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