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Rose is learning English ~ Update on Safety First Nursing in Haiti

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Rose is learning English ~ Update on Safety First Nursing in Haiti

Welcome back to Safety First Nursing, the home of the patient safety specialist. It is my passion to bring you education, research and resources supporting patient (and nurse) safety. It’s been a busy week preparing for my first seminar for Vyne Education (for 6 CEU!). I will be facilitating in Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Columbus – a whirlwind tour of the Midwest (but I get to see my mom!) and I get to interview Lorie Brown, a nurse who is also an attorney. I am really looking forward to sharing info about her story and how she can support nurses who have to go before boards of nursing.

I am counting the days until school starts again (18, in case you were wondering). My kids have been going to Ultimate Frisbee camp, and I have been plugging away looking for venues to get my message out there. My mission is to bring the best patient safety information to nurses around the globe, hoping to prevent future incidents of harm. My business coach suggested I look for speaking engagements; so we are working on that – if you know of anyone who would like me to talk about patient safety, please contact me! And a free bar of soap from Essential Journeys to anyone who meets with me in person to discuss how SFN can support patient safety for you or your organization!

This week will be a short article– just updating you on Rose’s adventures with English school. As you may know, Rose is the Haitian student that SFN is sponsoring through nursing school in partnership with Consider Haiti. If you want to know more, you can read previous blogs about this incredible adventure.


The class, and nursing school this fall, are in Saint-Marc, which is about a 45 minutes “drive” from where Rose lives. I put drive in quotes because it is really a wild ride. There was a ride at Disney World called Frog and Toad’s wild adventure – driving in Haiti reminds me of that. Everyone drives as fast as they can, honking and veering wildly around cattle, goats, people and giant pits or rocks that appear in the road out of nowhere. The road is used by cars, “tap taps” (cars that have been painted with bright colors, operating like taxis)

busses, trucks, pedestrians, scooters, motorcycles (motos), bicycles, donkeys, horses and anything else you can possible think of. These vehicles are loaded with a creative and unbelievable amount of people and goods. There are no streetlights or street signs, no guard rails, no sidewalks.

Accidents are common and can be deadly. One day last fall when I was working at the clinic Esperance, 3 boys were brought in after being in a horrible motorcycle accident. I have included photos from both my trips to Haiti so you can see the eclectic mix of transportation.

The fewer back and forth trips Rose has to make the better. She doesn’t know anyone in Saint Marc other than her fiancé and his family and she doesn’t feel comfortable staying with them. We are looking for a room for her to rent so she won’t have to go back and forth every day. Nursing school is from 2p-7p M-F.

I asked Rose to share something interesting about Haitian culture. She shared with me that every January, families in Haiti cook pumpkin soup or soup joumou to celebrate Haitian Independence, which was won in January of 1804. Prior to that, Haiti had been colonized by France and they had forbidden Haitian slaves to eat any foods with pumpkin in them. To Haiti, pumpkin symbolizes freedom. There is a documentary about Haitian Pumpkin Soup called Liberty In A Soup by Dudley Alexis, a Haitian-born Miami filmmaker.

My most recent email from Rose was August 6th, I asked her about nursing in Haiti, and about the amount of diabetes in Haiti, as well as medication management/polypharmacy. Remember that the translation is mainly google translate, with some help from Maggie (who founded Consider Haiti) – so I do my best to keep the flow of her words but make it understandable.

Hi Miss Kristi Miller,

That is Rose. How are you? How is your family?

I thank you for your last letter. Thanks for the pictures too. You and your family are really nice.


I am pleased to be able to practice English together, which will allow me to go faster in learning the language.


To answer you about nursing in Haiti, I contacted a nurse and asked about it. He told me that nursing in Haiti is no different from other places. It is such a universal thing that there may be some minor deviations in how to teach this science or practice. The main role of the nurse is to execute the Dr.s orders, because the nurse has limits and must stay within this limit.


Abel’s father has had diabetes for 7 years and it is really sad for him because he has suffered all his life. He takes 8-10 daily medications, which is not easy because many times this person can be discouraged and decides not to continue the treatment. Talking about diabetes reminds me of my father, who suffered much from it.

Sincerely, I do not have much information about this disease especially on the type of diabetes. I know it makes the patient sick on some parts of the body that don’t ever heal. It often happens that the doctors have to cut off a limb of the infected person. I would like to know how many types of diabetes there are, I would also like to know if American doctors cut off the legs of people with diabetes. I hope my nursing studies will support my ability to relieve the suffering of people with diabetes and help in the fight against illness.

Rose included some great pictures of her classroom and of her textbook – I am looking forward to getting my first note from her in English. October and nursing school will be here before we know it! To get the latest updates on Rose, as well as info on new patient safety education, research and resources, sign up for the safety first nursing newsletter.


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