Posted 2 years ago

By Post Staff

Jamaica mapNearly 20 Chadron State College health professions students and local health professionals flew out of Denver early Thursday morning on a medical mission trip to Falmouth, Jamaica.

They will be joined in Jamaica by several other medical professionals and others from the area before returning to Chadron a week from Sunday, May 19. Each students is paying his or her own expenses –  about $1,500.

The trip was organized by Dawes County resident Loretta Belknap, who teaches a basic nursing assistant course at Chadron State in cooperation with Western Nebraska Community College two days a week and had been on a similar trip to Jamaica.

Belknap will be one of 4 nurses on the trip, with her daughter also among that group.  Chadron Community Hospital has donated most of the medicines that will be used.

Chadron physician Dr Kristi Johnson, one of those who will be arriving later, says the trip will be an eye-opener for the college students because none of them ever been on a medical mission trip and several never flown in an airplane.

Their destination, Falmouth, is an important port city along Jamaica’s northern coast, and Johnson says the clinic and adjacent hospital where the group will be working was founded by a Nebraska doctor and his wife.

Some of the people who come to the clinic live in the surrounding hills and mountains, getting up at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning to walk to the clinic…then wait in line for hours before they can be seen.

While the CSC students will be helping the medical professionals see the patients, Johnson also “recruited” a medical student from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha to assist her with the most severe cases.

Johnson isn’t leaving until Sunday because her son, Calen, is graduating from Chadron High School on Saturday. Two CSC students who have relatives also graduating from high school this weekend, will accompany her.

Scottsbluff dentist Dr Todd Pieper, a dental hygienist, and two assistants from his office are also making the trip, but they’re leaving Saturday.

Among those who left with the student is the Rev. Jeri Soens, former pastor of the United Methodist Church in Hemingford and interim pastor of the Methodist Church in Chadron earlier this year.

Soens is helping oversee another aspect of the trip, offering patients some 250 bibles donated by members of Gideons International and Open Door Church south of Chadron.  The students gathered to pray prior before leaving Chadron.