September 23, 2016 (Los Angeles, CA) – Recently two Avanti staff members, Maria Avila, System Director, and Downapha Britton, Chief Nursing Officer Coast Plaza Hospital, traveled with Paladin’s Director of Community Development, Kenneth Cohen, to a remote village in Nicaragua to establish an international service learning program designed specifically for Avanti staff.
The program, developed in partnership with the Globe Health Foundation, is designed to provide Avanti nurses and other staff with an immersive experience that heightens their cultural literacy, provides a greater understanding of how the environment, economy, and culture impact health both internationally and in our own communities, and reinforces the sense of purpose that inspires the practice of patient-centered healthcare. “Our own communities are extremely diverse, and we are operating in an increasingly multicultural environment. International service programs deepen the understanding of how to recognize and access cultural context to generate better health outcomes” said Cohen. Avila and Britton conducted numerous focus groups to better understand the community’s health issues and traveled to several clinics and hospitals to assess both needs and opportunities. “Many of the conditions we were seeing were not dissimilar to needs in our communities. For instance, asthma and other respiratory illnesses were prominent because of the environmental factors” said Avila. Once the program is established, staff will have the opportunity to travel to Jiquilillo, Nicaragua to meet with community members to better understand their healthcare needs, deliver care in rural clinics, and assist in local hospitals. “When you are immersed in a community where people earn less than $1 a day, have no means of transportation to get to hospital settings, and face accelerating environmental issues that affect their health, you quickly realize how these challenges have created innovative practices and forged bonds that strengthen community and family based networks of care.” said Cohen. He added, “There is great need here, but there is also tremendous grace and inspiration. Participants on these trips have transformative experiences that not only advance their professional practice, but reinvigorate their passion for making a difference”.
The program is scheduled to be launched this spring. Additional international sites will be developed to include locations in Africa and South America. “This is part of our commitment to our staff and to our communities. Enriching the staff through these unique and powerful programs will in turn enrich their practice and better serve our communities. It’s an amazing opportunity to combine international service learning with personal and professional growth” said Cohen.
More information about the program and the application process will be made available in early fall. If you have questions, please contact Kenneth Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org.