Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Featured Volunteer: Kate

You’ve seen her in countless photos over the past few months, but we have yet to share her story. Kate is a nurse from the U.S. who generously volunteered six months of her time to work with Little Flower at our Beijing Infant Care Home.

Whether she was giving Kangaroo time to our preemies, making the morning rounds, or discussing treatment options with our medical staff, Kate was an amazing volunteer. She’s leaving China today to head home, and we’ll miss her! Read our recent interview with Kate, where we talked about her experience working with Little Flower babies.

How long did you volunteer at the baby home?

I’ve volunteered for six months.

Is this your first time volunteering for an organization like Little Flower?

Yes. I have done some hospital volunteering in the States, but nothing like this.

What made you make the decision to volunteer?

I have always said that I wanted to be able to volunteer my nursing skills overseas a few weeks every couple of years once I settled into a long-term job. I am very excited to have had the opportunity to volunteer longer than a few weeks. Working with infants and toddlers in a medical setting is challenging, but so rewarding.

How did you hear about Little Flower? Why did you choose this organization?

I heard about Little Flower through a friend who had sent me Little Flower's Facebook page. She had suggested this might be something I would like to consider helping with in the future. At the time, I was focused on my career and had no plans to volunteer overseas in the near future. But eventually my heart softened to the idea of being a long-term volunteer…immediately rather than some time in the future. Nine months after I was sent the email, I had applied, been accepted, and was able to help Little Flower continue to provide excellent care.

What are your tasks at the baby home?

I was part of the medical team at the baby home. This team works together to make both long-term and short-term medical decisions for the babies in our care. We do a lot of hands-on care, but also a lot of research, since the babies we treat have very complex medical conditions that are often uncommon or that present multiple complications. The decision to send babies to the hospital for care is also made by this team. There is always someone from this team available to handle medical situations if they arise.

Can you describe a typical day at the baby home?

There is no typical day here! Hahaha. Generally, my day starts around 9 AM with morning rounds of all the babies in our care. I record significant changes and make notes of things that need to be addressed that day with each baby. During rounds, we discuss the current course of care for each child and make care change decisions. The needed changes that are identified during rounds are then carried out. Throughout the day, I check up on babies and monitor them, provide “kangaroo” care (skin-to-skin care for preemies), and assist with any situations that arise. My favorite days are ones I have time to spend an hour or two one-on-one in kangaroo care. If we have very small preemies, I spend most of the day in the room monitoring them.

What was the most rewarding moment during your stay?

Watching the babies hit milestones is the most rewarding thing for me. Seeing them able to eat by themselves, hit weight marks, hold their heads up, start talking, and begin walking after having been so small and sick is exciting! Knowing that without Little Flower, they might not have hit those marks makes each milestone a celebration.

What made you laugh? What made you cry?

Every loss of a baby makes me—and everybody else in the baby home—cry. Especially if it is an unexpected loss… there are a lot of tears. But it’s also the babies that make me laugh, mainly during the moments when I have time to just play with them.

Moments like talking to little Yi. He just learned a few new words, and his favorite one is “no.” Whenever I asked him a question, he’d answer “no!” even though he doesn’t understand English. Situations like these are very funny.

What are your plans for when you’re back home in the States?

I plan to work in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and finish up my Neonatal Nurse Practitioner degree.

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