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Panola College nursing student travels to Belize to give care

By Special to the News-Journal
June 13, 2017 at 6 p.m.

Reyna Avila, a Panola College student, listens to an infant's heartbeat during a routine assessment in Belize.

Reyna Avila recently completed a course at Panola College in transcultural nursing in the remote jungles of Belize with her instructor, Barbara Cordell, dean of nursing.

The course is connected to a group called Project Belize, which consists of doctors and nurses who have been traveling to serve Belize's poorest residents for 30 years.

This year, 44 people went to the Toledo District to hike to villages that have no doctor or nurse.

"We are often the only medical personnel these people have seen since we were here the year before," Cordell said

Avila and others provided nursing assessments and treatments to more than 1,500 patients in a four-day period. Often, antibiotics were given; sometimes pain medicines; rarely, a minor surgery was performed, but everyone got vitamins, a toothbrush and education concerning health issues.

"The trip to Belize was amazing. I wish every student nurse could experience the wonderful people we saw at the clinics," Avila said.

Avila is a licensed vocational nurse in the Panola College LVN to RN hybrid transition program and is due to graduate in August.

Avila lives in the Dallas area but chose to drive to East Texas to attend Panola College's nursing program because she heard about the program's teachers and curriculum.

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