BCHC nurse Heather Noble plans medical mission trip to Zambia

Heather Noble, RN

Boone County Health Center (BCHC) surgery nurse Heather Noble will be traveling on a medical mission trip to Zambia, Africa, later this year.
She will be joining Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Dr. Nila Novotny, and Ophthalmologist Dr Peter Diedrichsen on the trip to offer healthcare.
“I’ve always liked taking care of people. Since I first became a registered nurse, I’ve thought about going on a medical mission trip,” said Noble. “I work with Dr. Novotny at the health center, and she talks about her mission trips. Often, she’ll ask if any of the nurses want to join her. I’ve always wanted to say yes, but just never had the chance. My youngest of three boys graduates from high school this May. So, this time, when Dr. Novotny asked, I said I would love to go!”
This year, there are several nurses and scheduling staff going a week early to screen patients. They will be working at the Chifundo Rural Health Center, on the Ambassador International University (AIU) campus. AIU was started by Gospelink in 2009.
When the doctors arrive, they will see patients for a variety of issues and perform many surgeries, such as removing tonsils or masses.
As an experienced surgery nurse, Noble will assist the surgeons. “The doctors won’t be able to safely perform surgery on everyone who wants or needs it, but we will try to help as many as we can,” Noble said.
In Zambia, Dr. Novotny’s main focus will be helping people born with a cleft palate or cleft lip. “In the U.S., when we have a baby born with a cleft lip or cleft palate, we fix it as soon as possible. In Zambia, there are children and adults who have never had that chance,” Noble said. “They grow up with trouble eating and communicating and can have social issues, too, and that’s just the way it is there.”
“Likewise, when we take care of cataract patients in the U.S., you cannot tell they have cataracts unless you’re looking at their eye with special equipment. However, in Zambia, cataracts don’t get treated early, and the patients go totally blind,” Noble explained. “Once blind, they cannot work, and they require another family member to care for them. But Dr. Diedrichsen can perform a surgery that will give them back their sight and allow them to return to the workforce,” Heather said.

Read the complete story in the March 21 Albion News & Petersburg Press, Print and E-Editions.