Collaboration toward humanitarian assistance culminates in positive outcome

When hurricane Irma knocked out power in Puerto Rico the country started to get power back about a week later, then, Hurricane Maria hit and knocked out power again.

Danny HainleyEight hours before the second hurricane, Danny Hainley, R.N., C.R.N.A., hopped on a plane to safety. He thought he’d spend a few days with his brother in California and be able to head back to the University of Puerto Rico to finish out his Spanish emersion nurse anesthesia program. But Hainley, and many of his classmates, were not so lucky. Puerto Rico struggled to regain its footing after the second hurricane, and this meant Hainley couldn’t finish his clinical hours to graduate and qualify for the board examination. There was no end to the poor conditions in sight and communications were difficult. Massive safety concerns and his Puerto Rican neighborhood flooded, which included water borne illnesses, distressed him.

Hainley decided to head back to Portland and figure things out with the help of his parents. Finally, he was able to get a hold of the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA) and asked them what they do in situations like these. Their suggestion? Call local schools to see if they would take him in. So, that’s what he did. Fortunately, Hainely had a few connections with the OHSU hospital where he had worked in the cardiac surgical ICU before he started his nurse anesthesia program. His first contact at OHSU was Lisa Osborne-Smith, program director for the nurse anesthesia program at the OHSU School of Nursing. From there, Osborne-Smith, became an advocate for Hainley’s education. Osborne-Smith says, “It was really about helping someone in need. It wasn’t Danny’s fault for being put in this situation and if there was a way to help, I knew the folks at A-POM, Dr. Kirsh and Matt Hart, would be willing to work with us to find a way.” They worked together with the program director at the University of Puerto Rico and the COA, and established an agreement to allow Danny to finish his training at OHSU.

Hainley says, “Just three months away from graduation and it felt like starting over in some ways. I had established so many relationships in Puerto Rico and I loved going to school there.” He was out of school and the operating room for about two months before he could start clinical hours again.

“There was a lot of trust involved. Everyone’s training is different and the OHSU operating room works differently from Puerto Rico.” Two of the biggest differences were the way each institution charted. In Puerto Rico, they use a paper system and at OHSU they have an electronic one called Epic. “Charting actually took a long time for me to get up to speed on. The other big difference was that we were not speaking Spanish at OHSU. I had learned everything in Spanish,” Hainley said.

Osborne-Smith invited Hainley to a nerve-block workshop to meet the nurse anesthesia students and connect with the group. The current students were able to give Hainley some much needed background information on how things worked at OHSU in a shorter amount of time than if he had to learn on his own. Osborne-Smith said, “I felt that it was important to consider Danny as one of our own. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to be displaced in the middle of a rigorous program.”

Hainley said, “I wasn’t expecting so much care. At the end of the day, I wasn’t an OHSU student and no one had to help me, but everyone went above and beyond. I had a core group of five fantastic preceptors who wanted me to do well. I felt like a deer in headlights for so long, but everyone who helped made a difference.”

The University of Puerto Rico is OHSU’s equivalent in Puerto Rico. However, once he got started in the OHSU system, even though he saw a lot of trauma and big sick cases similar to those in Puerto Rico, the cases were more complex. This added to the learning curve, but with the help of OHSU mentors he was able to adapt quickly.

Hainley recounts a time when Matt Hart, chief CRNA pulled him aside saying, ‘ don’t worry, don’t be so hard on yourself, just give it time.’ Hainley said, “He saw in my face how discouraged I felt. He still pushed me when necessary, they all did, but he was right. I did end up getting it and without the encouragement through the whole process it would have been more painful.”

Thanks to Dr. Jeff Kirsh (Chair of Anesthesia and Perioperative Medicine), Matt Hart (chief CRNA), Liz Olivera (clinical coordinator), Bryan Read, Roylene Rangel, Jared Fairchild, Lisa Osborne-Smith, nurse anesthesia program director. Hainley was able to meet his clinical requirements and successfully passed the National Certification Examination. He already has a job lined up in Las Vegas and hopes to spend his off hours rock climbing.

For more information, contact Christi Richardson-Zboralski, OHSU School of Nursing: richardc@ohsu.edu

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