Nautical Nursing: Clovis Nurse Leaves Lasting Impact

Featured photo contributed by Pauline Rick –  Robin Chapa

By Michaela Parker | Reporter

Robin Chapa, a registered nurse with The Community Medical Centers Healthcare Network of Central California, took her medical training global as a volunteer for Mercy Ships.

The goal of Mercy Ships is to bring hope and healing to the forgotten poor by mobilizing people and resources worldwide, and serving all people without regard for race, gender, or religion.

Since 1978, Mercy Ships has trained and educated:

  •      More than 5,900 local professionals (including surgeons) who have in turn trained many others.
  •      Over 37,400 local professionals in their area of expertise (anesthesiology, midwifery, sterilization, orthopedic and reconstructive surgery, leadership).
  •      Over 193,000 local people in basic health care.
  •      Completed over 1,100 community development projects focusing on water and sanitation, education, infrastructure development and agriculture.

Chapa had the opportunity to serve with Mercy Ships while the ship was docked in Madagascar.  Beginning early in the morning, Chapa’s days consisted of caring for both her own wellbeing as well as caring for the wellbeing of the patients she saw through regular shifts at the recovery room and time spent in worship with the other crew members. While the ship’s Wi-Fi allowed her to remain in contact with friends and family back home, the patients Chapa treated reminded her of the advanced medicine practiced at The Community Medical Centers of Central California.

Often the patients Chapa treated had never been to a doctor and were unfamiliar with the strange environment that was Mercy Ships, a floating hospital.

“They [the patients] were very fearful coming into surgery, but so thankful and happy afterward,” Chapa said about how the patients reacted to the hospital setting. “We [the medical team] saw some terrible tumors and conditions that one would never see in the states.”

Chapa and her fellow crew members gave each and every patient the opportunity to have a new life.

“Many of the patients had been ostracized by their communities because of their afflictions,” Chapa said. “Some hadn’t had much human to human touch in a while. We were able to turn their lives around and give them hope.”

Mercy Ships hopes that one day all the nations of the earth will possess the knowledge to be able to care for themselves. As a member of Mercy Ships and a nurse here in the Central California, Robin Chapa has been able to show her patients a level of care that goes beyond the scope of the medical plan.

“We don’t know the road others have traveled to get to the point where our lives intersect,” she said. “I have a very short time to connect with my patients in the recovery room and many won’t even remember my face; yet I am responsible for the way I treat each patient in my care and I want them to know I care about them. I don’t want any patient to feel that they are just a number going through our department. I am blessed to work with many staff at Clovis Community [Medical Center] who share the same convictions.”

Chapa encourages anyone to be a part of the larger mission started by Mercy Ships.

“Jump in and go with it,” she added. “ It will change how you think and perform as a medical professional.”