MALTA – Krystle Forsyth wanted to travel out of the country in February, and instead of vacationing in tropical, sandy beaches, she found herself in Uganda.
Forsyth, an alumna of Kishwaukee College’s nursing program, traveled from Feb. 8 to 23 with eight other people with Rotary District 6420 to Pamuro Parish in Uganda to help empower young women in Uganda.
Forsyth brought donated health care and nursing textbooks, and also cared for multiple patients in a Ugandan hospital. She plans to return to Uganda next February.
Forsyth recently spoke with reporter Andrea Azzo about her trip.
Azzo: What was it like in Uganda?
Forsyth: It was kind of surreal that I was ever there. The people are so amazing. Everybody is just so welcoming and appreciative. It was kind of surprising considering the situation in the hospital and how everything was. It was stress free.
Azzo: What were the conditions like at the hospital?
Forsyth: They had limited resources and equipment. The outcomes of the patients were never very good, yet everybody was so happy we were there and so thankful.
It was a 260-bed facility. I primarily worked in the women’s ward. There’s four pods and 19 beds in each pod, but there’s always overcrowding, so some people were on the floor.
[They need] blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, and they didn’t have any oxygen concentrators, which supply oxygen. Normally, people have between 90 to 100 percent oxygen in their blood. In Uganda, people who had tuberculosis had 60 percent oxygen. One little girl was 73 percent. There’s very little you can do. We notified the physicians and had the little girl sit in a comfortable position. At the time, we thought she had pneumonia, but it turned out she had tuberculosis. I’m not sure what the outcome of that patient was.
Azzo: Why did you want to go to Uganda?
Forsyth: To help empower young women and children. Women do all the housework and cooking then try to make a living. There’s no time for school. Usually girls drop out of school or don’t go to school. We were there to encourage them. We partnered with a Ugandan group, which focuses on empowering young women.
Azzo: What did you take back with you when you returned to the United States?
Forsyth: Several members and I are giving presentations to try to spread the word and share our experience. One member from Genoa has been writing pen pal letters back and forth. A Sterling OB-GYN is trying to get a physician from Uganda to come here and work with him. We’re still collecting materials. We’re trying to raise awareness so when we go back, we know what’s needed the most.
Azzo: What will be your goal when you go back there next February?
Forsyth: We want to see if they’ve improved at all based off our assessments we presented. We just want to keep helping them improve their overall health care services. The nurses were very knowledgeable and basically have the same education as we do, but there’s just so many patients and such limited equipment and supplies.