By Sarah Bello
For eight days in October, Donna Bzdil volunteered at a clinic, helping provide rehab services with other occupational and physical therapists. While that might not sound too different from her day job as the manager of CMH Rehabilitation Services Manager and a licensed occupational therapist, it wasn’t the clean, quiet halls of CMH where she was doing the work.
Bzdil recently returned from a medical missions trip to Port-de-Paix, Haiti, with Phoenix Rising for Haiti. She says most Haitians have had little professional care for injuries, illnesses and traumas. More than 100 people visited the clinic each day she was there, and she spent much of her time making splints for patients.
“I had the opportunity to have clients return so we could see their tolerances to splints or exercises provided, as well as how the education helped them manage their pain or limited function,” Bzdil says. “The incredible part of this trip was to observe the responses of the clients following treatment.
“Those who returned to the clinic during that week had less pain and were very happy to have the treatment, splint and information. Knowing that, even though it was only one or two days, you could make a difference — that’s why I was there.”
In addition to making splints, Bzdil saw patients of all ages with a variety of other issues. She says the best part about working with the kids there was helping them move from a resistance and fear of care to laughing and interacting with her following the session. It was also gratifying to see that the patients could do more things afterward than what they could do when they arrived.
Bzdil says the trip was a team approach, with CMH and others donating supplies and medication to the group. While the Haitian people have very little opportunity to have healthcare, this clinic was a small way to help them, she says, and was a growth experience for her.
“Long term, Phoenix Rising for Haiti will be helping the Haitians run this clinic daily, so the treatment is not just a couple of weeks a year,” she says. “I was blessed to have this opportunity and humbled by the experience. I know this — as therapists, we can change lives.”
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