Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi

Dr. Patricia Olenick

An Outstanding Islander

Outline photo of Dr. Patricia Olenick

Hope and Healthcare

Sometimes you find yourself halfway around the world. And, sometimes, halfway round the world, you find yourself.

That’s how Dr. Patricia Olenick, associate professor in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, sums up the three weeks she spent in June traveling the Philippine Islands with “Project Hope,” a volunteer group that works to make healthcare available to people throughout the world.

“My personal experience with Project Hope began as a child when I saw a picture of the big white floating hospital with the big red cross on the hull,” said Olenick, who lived in the Philippines for two years while her father served in Vietnam. “Once I became a midwife, I realized that I could return to the islands and be of service to the people there some day.”

Based aboard the USNS Mercy, the lead hospital ship of its class in the United States Navy, the multinational team treated 600-700 patients a day with many people waiting in line for two days. Olenick provided direct women’s healthcare to more than 100 patients with ailments ranging from headaches to cancer. Most were treated at the makeshift clinics in auditoriums and schools with the most urgent cases being flown to the ship for surgery.

“The ship is literally a floating hospital,” said Olenick. “We did 25 to 30 surgeries a day, many of them life changing such as repairing severely disabling defects that children had suffered from since birth.”

Olenick also participated in educational exchanges with local doctors and nurses. In addition, she worked with local midwives on baby resuscitation using a bag and mask to achieve cardio-respiratory stability. The medical volunteers followed a grueling schedule that began at 4:30 a.m. They worked in temperatures well over 100 degrees before calling it a day at around 8 p.m. However, the discomfort did not dampen Olenick’s enthusiasm.

“To participate in a multinational team in providing care and education to the people there was a dream come true,” she said. “As Gen. Douglas McArthur once said, “I shall return!

 

 
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