Jeanmarie Sharp, APNP in Haiti
At the University of Wisconsin Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, we often say that "women's health is everyone’s health." This belief drives us to continuously improve ourselves as providers, and to make our services accessible to the people with the greatest need, both locally and globally. In other words, we are constantly chasing the "Wisconsin Idea."
Jeanmarie Sharp, a nurse practitioner in the department’s General Obstetrics & Gynecology Division, is a living testament to the interconnectedness of our department’s goals at home and abroad. Through the "Friends of Haiti" project, a twinning parish program based in Green Bay, WI, Sharp has traveled to remote and mountainous regions of rural Haiti each of the past four years to help address an immense need for medical care.
"Haiti is classified as a fifth world country, and the definition of a fifth world country is a country with no hope," Sharp said. "You get this massive feeling of being needed. Some patients will hike for eight hours or more over the roughest, steepest cliffs you have ever seen, just to wait in line all day to receive care."
Friends of Haiti, founded by Father Larry Canavera in 2000, brings medical providers twice a year to 11 chapel clinics, serving approximately 60,000 people living in the country’s rural mountain villages.
On each visit, Sharp has cared for patients alongside Haitian doctors, volunteers, and individuals from the Haitian American Nurses Association, as well as internal medicine physicians, dermatologists, cardiologists, and other medical professionals from all parts of the United States.
"There are typically three providers assigned to each clinic," Sharp explained. "This year, my group treated over a thousand people in a mere three days. We treat anything that comes in—delivering babies, treating worms, fire burns, and more serious conditions like pneumonia, tumors, and hydrocephalus."
While Sharp has provided an important service to rural Haitians, she believes the experience has also provided her with important professional gains.
"Working with the Haitian people and with other volunteers of diverse medical specialties has not only made me a better provider, but a more well-rounded practitioner who is more culturally sensitive," Sharp said.
Sharp credits both her department and the university for their unwavering support for continuing education and training for providers, which affords her the opportunity to go back and serve rural areas of Haiti each year.
"The most wonderful thing about working for the University of Wisconsin and the Department of Ob-Gyn is that they recognize the value of my service in Haiti to my career as a practitioner," Sharp said. "I feel really proud to work for an organization that supports this kind of work."
For more information or have questions about "Friends of Haiti," visit their website at http://friendsofhaiti-gb.com or email Jean Marie Sharp at firstname.lastname@example.org.