American University of Health Sciences welcomed Dean Hilda Alcindor, the Dean of the Faculty of Nursing Science of the Episcopal University of Haiti (FSIL) and Joanne Pohl, the President of the Haiti Nursing Foundation Board to its campus on October 10th, 2016.
Alcindor attended A Gala of Support Benefiting the FSIL Nursing School on October 8th at the Renaissance Los Angeles Airport Hotel where she met Pastor Gregory Johnson, the co-founder of American University of Health Sciences. Pastor Johnson then invited Alcindor to the AUHS campus.
Alcindor and Pohl were first given a tour of the school including a walk through the skills lab. After the tour, AUHS held a luncheon in Alcindor’s honor. During the luncheon traditional Chinese food was served along with a presentation from Pastor Johnson. Pastor Johnson discussed the university’s core values, course description, student life, charity work, and aspirations for the future. He also discussed how AUHS hoped to collaborate with FSIL and the Haiti Nursing Foundation.
“We have to do as much as we can to not pass those in need on the other side,” said Pastor Johnson, “What is happening in Haiti is happening all over the world. We tend to make our giving and our caring trendy. We must stop.”
The terms of the collaboration have not yet been given but this newly found alliance has inspired both AUHS staff and students.
“Anything we can do to support (Alcindor) would be something I would like to get involved with,” said Mercy Popoola, the Dean of AUHS’s School of Nursing.
Popoola had several ideas on how AUHS can provide support to FSIL including a campaign to donate the students white uniforms to FSIL as well as materials from the university skills lab. She also wants to organize a mission trip, bringing AUHS nursing students to Haiti to provide health screenings, nursing care, and health and community education to the country.
Alcindor took the floor after Pastor Johnson’s presentation to discuss FSIL and her experience as a nurse in Haiti. She also recounted the hardships she, her staff and her patients endured in the aftermath of the catastrophic earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010. The 7.0 magnitude earthquake killed an estimated 220,000-316,000 people, injured 300,000 and displaced 1.5 million, according to CNN.
Alcindor was teaching a psychology class at the FSIL campus when the earthquake struck.
“It lasted less than a minute but it did all the damage that it did,” Alcindor said.
She and the students walked out of the school and 20 minutes after the earthquake, a child came to them looking for help.
“We’re not a hospital. I don’t know why they came. But if you go in (FSIL), they’re going to take care of you,” Alcindor said, “A lot of people came in that night from all walks of life. I was the only nurse there (. . .) working in a war zone.”
Alcindor remembered seeing a 17 year old boy talking to his mother. Moments later, secretion began coming out of his ears and the students asked Alcindor what should they do.
“I said let him die. Do a prayer for him because he’s going to die,” Alcindor said. “We had people come in who had their legs missing. The next day in front of the school we had ten bodies. There was nothing I could do.”
Despite the desperate circumstances and lack of supplies, Alcindor did the best she could to save as many people as possible.
“I don’t think the pharmaceutical people would like me to say this but I learned that expiration dates doesn’t mean much,” Alcindor said.
Alcindor, her students and her staff kept their patients hydrated because they had lost a dangerous amount of blood. They used boxes as splints for broken arms and legs. They also cut bed sheets to use as bandages to dress wounds.
Alcindor’s account of the earthquake was the most compelling to Dianna Scherlin, the Provost and Dean of Nursing of AUHS.
“She demonstrated that the impossible can be achieved. She took what little she had to tirelessly and selflessly provide help to those in need who had nothing left,” Scherlin said.
Scherlin called Alcindor a genuine and remarkable woman, a leader, a humanist, and a role model to AUHS students. Scherlin calls on AUHS students to “use this opportunity to understand humanity at a much deeper level, to learn about disenfranchised people, to work with diverse cultures and to apply Christian values.” Scherlin believes that the collaboration between AUHS, FSIL and the Haiti Nursing and to grow as people, as practitioners, and nurses.