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Chilton Hospital Wound Care Nurse Delivers Compassion in Haiti
07/19/2013

Michele Slootmaker of Chilton Hospital treats a 4-year-old patient in Haiti.

If American children had to stand in a two-hour line to receive health care, it wouldn’t be a pretty sight. To say there would be some fidgeting and complaining would be an understatement.

For Michele Slootmaker, RN, BSN, a nurse at Chilton Hospital’s Comprehensive Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Center, treating children in Haiti was an eye-opening experience as they were unbelievably calm and well-mannered.

“People in Haiti actually consider it to be a privilege to receive health care,” Slootmaker said. “It’s a special occasion and they come all dressed up for it. They’re very thankful and happy to be taken care of.”

Slootmaker was recently part of a medical mission to Haiti through her Denville-based church, Christ the King. Tina Saniewski, a nurse from Morristown Medical Center, is a member of the church who organizes four missions per year. The recent trip was Slootmaker’s first.

“We treated 307 patients in three days of clinics during the time we were there,” Slootmaker explained. “Two of the clinics were in orphanages, so we have established relationships with them. It’s exciting because we now have files on the kids so we can witness their progress when we return.”

Slootmaker was stationed near the city of Cap-Haitien, which is in the northern part of the island. It was far away from Port-au-Prince, but like the capital city, it was “very third world and poverty-stricken like you couldn’t imagine,” according to Slootmaker. Her organization transports medical necessities for the mission from the U.S. to Haiti, such as wound supplies, antibiotics, antifungals, diabetes medication and IVs.

Saniewski receives most of the medications through a company that supports medical missions, so they acquire them in bulk, which is less expensive. Slootmaker and Saniewski worked alongside two Haitian doctors that were trained and worked in the Dominican Republic.

Christ the King Church is not just delivering health care in Haiti. They’re also improving the infrastructure. Most of the clinics there are held in churches, but many are in a state of disrepair.

“There is a gentleman in our church who goes down four times a year just to builds roofs on churches,” Slootmaker said. “In this trip, we were able to go to the opening and dedication ceremony of a church that they just finished putting the roof on that Sunday. It was really nice to see the culmination of that event, paired with the medical mission.”

Slootmaker was also accompanied by her husband, Andrew, who is a chiropractor by trade. He used his medical skills and experience to help with triage such as taking vitals and weighing patients before they were seen by the nurses and doctors.

Since May of 2005, Slootmaker has provided care for patients at Chilton, with the exception of when she took a break to further her nursing career by obtaining her BSN degree. She and Andrew plan to return to Haiti with the mission trip once per year.

Chilton Hospital is a fully accredited, 260-bed, acute-care, community hospital. It is the first hospital in New Jersey to received Pathway to Excellence designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Chilton recently embarked on a $24 million modernization project, which includes the Cardiovascular Interventional Lab, The Breast Center and the Total Joint Center. It is also a four-time recipient of the HealthGrades Specialty Excellence Award in Stroke, and Five-Star Rated for Stroke Care, the highest possible, for six years in a row. In addition, Chilton is also Five-Star Rated for Joint Replacement and Total Knee Replacement for 2012. Chilton’s many services include a state-of-the-art Emergency Department, the Sleep Health Institute, the Comprehensive Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Center, the Chilton Cancer Center, the MotherBaby Center a weight loss surgery program and minimally invasive and robot-assisted surgery. The hospital is located at 97 West Parkway in Pompton Plains, NJ 07444. For more information about Chilton's facilities and services, or to find a doctor by name, specialty, or location, please visit www.chiltonhealth.org or call 1-888-CHILTON.

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