If often, we choose a field to make a career from an early age. for some, it took a road accident
to really awaken a passion that was dormant in oneself, unknown so far. This is exactly the case
with Nyssa Hattaway.
In fact, she has previously studied the History of the art and she was predestined to evolve and
that field. However, after involving in a car accident where her seven-old-month baby has been
critically injured, she has decided to become a nurse by realizing the mystery of the human body
in the healing process.
As part of the Haiti air ambulance volunteering program, she has been in Haiti for two weeks.
We invite to discover her history and her experience about flying in the country.
Can you introduce yourself with all the possible details (family, hobbies,
background, and so on…)?
I am Nyssa Hattaway from Georgia. I have four grown children and one beautiful granddaughter.
I love road trips, collecting art, public speaking, reading, hiking and yoga. A lot of people have
bucket lists, but I have a food bucket list of all the things I’d like to eat before I die.
Can you tell us more about your meeting with medical field and why have you
chosen to do career?
I went to nursing school as a second career. One morning I was dropping my children off at
school and we were involved in a serious car accident. My seven-month-old was critically
injured. He spent time in the ER, PICU, OR and through that experience I realized two things:
the human body is amazing and can heal itself with some help, and that I wanted to be a part of
the medical community that helps people in their time of need. When my youngest child went to
school, I went to nursing school.
What was your motivation to come to volunteer with Haiti air ambulance? How did
Kelly Edwards, HAA’s Clinical Educator, and I have flown together for a while, and I saw what
he was doing in Haiti. He invited me to come down; I didn’t know volunteering was an option
until then. I immediately said yes.
What difference you have made between flying in the US and in Haiti in terms of
LZ, types of patients, treatment providing during a flight and delivery process?
Differences were mostly in the diagnoses of patients in Haiti versus the US. I cared for TB
patients; in the US we do see rule out cases, but they almost always end up negative. I also cared
for a child with kwashiorkor. While we see poor nutrition in the US, this condition was
completely new to me. I don’t even remember studying it in nursing school. LZ’s and the
treatments that we provided were very similar to what I am used to in the US with a few
exceptions: my program does not have point of care lab capabilities or ultrasound capabilities
and I really loved having those as options. One other thing that I really like about the Haitian
model is that a family member always comes along to the hospital with an admitted family
member. I wonder what kind of impact that would have on the US health delivery system if it
were a requirement here too.
Can you tell us what have you learned and taught medically during your stay?
My experience with HAA reemphasized to me the importance of a strong head-to-toe
assessment. I learned that emergency providers have a connection, even if their background and
primary language is different, our thought processes are very similar. I learned about the great
resiliency of the Haitian people: we had a patient with a GCS of 8 delivered to us on a moto- the
driver and a third passenger had wedged his body between theirs as it was the only way to get
him to us. I also saw a patient with a full-length leg cast and external fixators riding a moto.
Haitians get creative when it comes to overcoming barriers.
How did you feel about going back to USA after two weeks of volunteering in Haiti?
While I was eager to get back to family and friends, I got a bit emotional watching the island
from the airplane window as I flew away. Haiti and her people endear themselves to you very
quickly. As soon as I got home, I started working on plans to return.
Nyssa Hattaway, became nurse by accident volunteering with Haiti air ambulance
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