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An American Nurse Midwife In Ethiopia
"I thought I was going to help start a midwife program," says Becky, communicating via email whenever the sporadic electricity and Internet connection allow. "But soon after I arrived at Gimbie, they asked me to fill the recently vacated role of head matron. So, here I am."
Since her arrival at Gimbie Adventist Hospital (GAH) in May of 2008, Becky has assumed a myriad of matronly duties, ranging from rationing the linens, to hiring new nurses, to tracking down missing charts, to training nursing students. Jokes Becky, "The title's growing on me. I'm going to make myself a hat that says, 'Don't mess with the Matron.'"
It's this sense of humor that helps Becky maintain her amazingly positive attitude in the face of tremendous suffering and poverty. The only hospital within 70km, non-profit GAH treats a largely poor population with services that include medical-surgical, pediatrics, OB/GYN, immunization clinics, and HIV/AIDS. All with a miniscule budget and seriously limited resources — from the medical supplies in their closets to the scrubs on their backs.
As part of her many duties, Becky also lends a hand in raising much-needed funds for medicine and supplies. Which is what led her to medelitatm. "We have around 60 staff in clinical roles," explains Becky. "Right now, they wear whatever is available. Yesterday, I was wearing the stunning outfit of unisex scrub pants and a hooded sweater under my 3/4 sleeve lab coat."
Becky and the dedicated staff at Gimbie, many of whom earn less than $30 a month, recently received a wardrobe upgrade from www.medelita.com, including over 80 donated lab coats and scrubs. Becky anticipates the Dri-release® with FreshGuard® moisture management technology used in medelita scrubs will offer freshness and comfort in Gimbie's rigorous environment.
If you could say one thing to women working in healthcare, what would it be?
"Most women in healthcare are innate givers — sometimes at the expense of their own dreams. Don't put your dreams on hold. Make it happen. Weave your dreams into your profession."
— Becky Carlton, BSN, CNM
Says medelita founder and Physician Assistant Lara Manchik, herself a veteran of several medical missions to South America, "Professional women like Becky deserve our recognition and gratitude for all they've given in the care of others. Outfitting Becky and her staff is just one small gesture to help make their difficult jobs a little easier."
Becky agrees that working at Gimbie can be challenging. But as a former Peace Corps volunteer caring for patients in Bolivia, she's no stranger to adversity. "You know, life is hard in Gimbie. These folks [on the staff] see and experience tragedy on a daily basis. But they stay compassionate while keeping their chins up. What I've learned from them is that happiness is a choice."
What we've learned from Becky is that one extraordinary person can make a world of difference in the lives of so many. medelita celebrates the dedication and professionalism of Becky and her colleagues at Gimbie. We only hope their new medelita scrubs and lab coats will help them feel comfortable, and most of all, appreciated as they continue their important work.