2018 Spring Break Study Abroad Blog: Grenada

Grenada Educational Service Trip | March 2-11, 2018

Grenada 2018 Study Abroad March 12, 2018 | Final Trip Reflection, by Lauren Harrington and Jenna Schuppener

Grenada airplane coast shotSummarizing this trip is far from an easy task. Putting memories, emotions, experiences and passions into words will not do this trip justice.

Despite that, here is our attempt. Many of us began this journey not knowing what to expect regarding health care in Grenada. Although our research prior to departure was beneficial, our knowledge only scratched the surface of what we would uncover. As we manned our various positions at the health fairs, the women’s symposium, disability center and home visits, we discovered that many people in Grenada are living with unmanaged hypertension and diabetes, and inadequate knowledge of breast health, and many are financially unable to visit their health care providers.

Our group tackled the various obstacles with an ample amount of education. The opportunities we have had in Grenada have instilled a love of public health in each of us. The need for basic health care is vital in countries like Grenada.

Grenada coast from airplaneIn conclusion, if we had to describe the Grenadian people with one word it would be joyful. Their joy is simply contagious. The people of Grenada have won our hearts with their kind spirits and unending hospitality.

Although we are glad to be back in the states after being away from home for so long, we were so sad to leave the kind people of Grenada we had the privilege of meeting on our trip.

We will never forget the memories we made on this trip and our experiences we had will help make us better nurses as we continue our education.

March 10, 2018 | Day Eight, by Frances Ausley

Grenadian breakfast health fair action shot SGU and UF nurses debriefing Scenic Grenada shotThis morning we had our last breakfast at Grooms Beach Resort. We all enjoyed the fruit juices and local food for breakfast throughout the Hands inweek. They had nutmeg and guava jams, cocoa and ginger tea, too, that we all enjoyed during our stay. This morning, we also got the opportunity to try some fresh papaya from Trevor’s garden and it was delicious!

After breakfast, we headed off to Grenville to our final health fair. We arrived at St. Andrews Anglican Primary School in Grenville and we set up our stations for the health fair with other nursing students from Saint George’s University, or SGU. There were a total of seven stations that included height, weight, BMI, blood pressure, blood sugar, nutrition education, dental hygiene, breast exams and a station for children. At the health fair, each UF nursing student was paired with a SGU nursing student at each station. This gave us an opportunity to learn about SGU nursing students’ curriculum and skills.

Many families with children came to get their health exam while their children were entertained at the children’s station, filled with crafts. With the help of a nursing student, the children were making beautiful flowers and paper plate fan design.

Furthermore, we served about 130 people Saturday ranging in age from six to 87. After we cleaned up, we had a debriefing with the SGU students, where we discussed the differences between Grenada and U.S. health care. At the end, we all noticed that our focus as nurses is to provide the best quality of care by advocating and teaching our patients about their health.

Following the health fair, we took a drive in St. Patrick to see sulfur springs. We were able to go up to the springs, and many of us got a sulfur mask on our arms. The sulfur was a muddy brown color and is used for eczema, sunburns, psoriasis and exfoliation. Our arms were so soft and smooth it felt like a baby’s bottom! We then took a scenic drive home and saw Lake Antoine on the way.

After arriving back at Groom’s Beach Resort, we turned right around and went to Ms. Ann Hopkins’ house for a lovely dinner and some closing words about the trip. We gave Ms. Hopkins, Ms. Simon, who is her assistant, and our driver and tour guide Trevor some gifts to show our appreciation for their endless patience and hospitality during our trip.

We had an action-packed last day in Grenada that we really enjoyed. We are all sad this trip is coming to a close, and that it has passed by so quickly. Our trip to Grenada really surpassed all expectations coming in and we all have a unique piece of Grenadian culture to take back home with us.

All that is left? To travel home Sunday on our 6 a.m. flight!

March 8, 2018 | Day Six, by Ysabele Barrios and Carly Reeves

UF study abroad group at health fair

Today was a big, long-awaited day! From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., we worked at the health fair in Grenada. Everyone was so excited to wear our shirts that we created just for our trip. We even gave an extra shirt to our personal bus driver, Trevor! The health fair was put on outside in the middle of the streets under big white tents. It was near the marketplace, so it was easily accessible to those who were walking around and those at break from work. It was a beautiful, sunny day with only one quick rain shower.

CON students at Grenada health fairSusan was in charge of organizing the event, assigning stations to each individual and telling everyone when to switch to the next station. She did an incredible job and it wouldn’t have been nearly as successful without her leadership! Many people from the community showed up (about 500+), and once they signed in they received a paper, which they were to complete by going to each station. The event was open to anyone in the public, and it was not limited to anyone by his or her age, gender or current health status.

Grenada health fair tableThe different stations included blood pressure, blood-glucose testing, height, weight, BMI, eye exams and a station related to breast health and breast exams. Each student had the opportunity to work each station and to educate people about their individual health, while promoting good health practices.

CON students at Grenada health fairIt was a neat experience, and we all had to work very fast while being very thorough because so many people attended! The Grenadian people, as they have been from the very beginning, were so friendly and so appreciative. They were thankful for our help and asked us many questions that I feel confident were all answered. It was amazing to see so many individuals come out to get simple tests done that we sometimes take for granted. Word traveled by mouth, and we had a huge influx of attendees after lunchtime, and friends of friends stopped by to receive some free health care!

Grenada health fairAfter many hours on our feet, we were all exhausted! We grabbed a quick bite to eat on the way back to our resort, and then we had a post-conference discussion about our day’s experiences. Everyone began getting their much needed rest pretty early! Overall, today was a great learning experience for all of us, and as discussed in our post conference, we will improve in areas where we were lacking to generate success at our final health fair in Grenville on Saturday.

March 7, 2018 | Day Five, by Lauren Perna and Tegan Pennington

Group shot in GrenadaThe day began with a bumpy hour-long ride to a little town called Grenville. On the way there our bus driver, Trevor, decided to diverge from the path and took us on a stroll down to a beautiful lake hidden in the mountains. Although it was a beautiful site, we Floridians got too cold and it was ultimately short-lasting. Once we left the lake, it was a short drive to the Golden Age Center, the location of our symposium.

During the symposium, we presented to various older men and women on subjects such as menopause, breast cancer, ovarian cancer and prostate cancer. The teams who were presenting each subject made pamphlets and PowerPoints to further facilitate learning, but we encountered one big complication.

symposium in grenada

Of course, we Americans would forget to bring the HDMI cord that, ultimately, would allow us to show our viewers the information. Despite our inability to use the PowerPoints we prepared in advance, the health symposium went on without a hitch. The attendees were so happy to have us there and were enthralled that we were taking their blood pressures and blood sugars. Everybody was served delicious porridge and we all had a wonderful time sharing stories and just talking and getting to know each other.

Coffee mug group shotAfter the symposium, we hopped back in the bus and continued with our day. Next on our list of activities was arts and crafts at the nursing home, but man oh man were we in for a shock. We arrived at the nursing home, rang the doorbell, and expected to enter no questions asked. Little did we know, the woman who opened the door had absolutely no idea who we were, let alone what we were doing at the nursing center. Dr. Delpech and the woman went back and forth about the miscommunication and finally it was decided that we would not be able to enter the nursing home. All of us were extremely sad this occurred because we had been preparing for this day for months. But, have no fear, when one door closes, another one opens.

Dancing in GrenadaWith the shift of events, we all decided it would be fitting to spend the day at the beach, and that’s exactly what we did. A good four hours were spent sunbathing, swimming and being crushed by the killer Grenadian waves. The water was such a cool temperature and extremely salty, which made floating so easy! Afterward, we went to True Blue, which is a fancy resort in Grenada with a dock. On Wednesdays they have catering and live music. We Florida girls definitely took advantage of that. We spent the whole night dancing to reggae and truly experienced island life.

Tomorrow is our first health fair and we can’t wait to see what adventures await!

March 6, 2018 | Day Four, by Lauren Harrington and Jenna Schuppener

St. George's General HospitalToday, we had the wonderful opportunity to shadow nurses at St. George’s General Hospital. We were paired with nurses from the pediatric, women’s surgical, women’s medical, men’s surgical, men’s medical and emergency wards. Post-conference was eye opening. We collaborated with the charge nurses and Dr. Delpech to discuss the differences and what surprised us about Grenadian health care. Here is a list of some of the topics we noticed:

  • The patient-to-nurse ratio was about 15:1, whereas in the United States it is closer to 4:1.
  • Grenadian physicians spend ample amount of time with their patients and develop very close relationships within the hospital setting.
  • The patients in Grenada don’t have their own rooms, but instead the wards are open and the patients are separated by curtains.
  • The concept of time is more fluid and relaxed in Grenada. Nothing is rushed and everything is done thoroughly.
  • Charting in Grenada is done completely on paper.
  • The United States has more equipment to monitor patients with and Grenada checks all vitals by hand.
  • In Grenada, nurses act as the EMTs that go out into the field on an ambulance.
  • The pediatric unit is 0-5 years old and some of the children are allowed to go outside on a porch and play.
  • The nurses divided the work by tasks rather than by patients, making the process a team effort.

Takeaway points:

  • Despite the fancy equipment we may have in the United States, nothing surpasses one-on-one patient interaction and quality of care
  • Make sure to know the patient as a person rather than simply their medical diagnosis

Grand Anse Beach GrenadaAfter a fun and busy day at the hospital, we traveled to Grand Anse Beach and ate a beautiful tropical lunch at Umbrellas. Some of us went swimming in the rough ocean waves, whereas others walked and enjoyed the views. One of us even got caught in a wave and had a funny tumble down the beach. We ended the day by getting some Grenadian nutmeg ice cream and it was delicious.

Tomorrow is the symposium and we are so excited to talk to people about women’s health!

March 5, 2018 | Day Three, by Carly Reeves and Amy Koester

Radio InterviewRadio interview with headphonesWe woke up this morning to the voices of Dr. Delpech, Ms. Hopkins, Jenna and Susan on the national Grenada radio station! They arrived at the station around eight o’clock in the morning while the rest of us listened while eating another delicious breakfast at the resort. The station included a very tiny room with basic microphones and recording devices. Dr. Delpech educated the public about the empowerment of women, which was a part of the National Kidney Foundation goal for 2018. Speaking of kidneys, Ms. Hopkins spoke about kidney health and its importance. Jenna was recorded speaking about menopause, while Susan brought awareness to breast cancer and self-breast exams.

Group shot Grenada Study AbroadNext on the agenda was a visit to St. George’s University, a short 15 minute drive on which we bounced and swerved through the busy morning street of St. George’s to the beat of Bob Marley’s “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.” Upon arrival, we met with Ms. Jennifer Solomon, the director of nursing, and she gave us a short tour of the gorgeous campus, set directly on the beach. The juxtaposition of the busy stressed students and the gorgeous beach scenery was almost ironic. While walking through campus, we were greeted several times with shouts of ‘Go Gators!’, ‘what are gators doing down here?’ and even conversed with some Gator alumni. The Gator Nation is truly international! Overall SGU was beautiful, high tech, and obviously an integral part of the health community of St. George’s.

Grenadian kiddo with stethoscopeOur final official activity of the day was a meeting with the members of the Grenadian Disabilities Association. This group included a variety of individuals with varying degrees of mental and physical disabilities. Accompanied by the ever-energetic Ms. Hopkins, the gang headed to the Grenada Red Cross Society where we paired up with disabled individuals, took blood pressure, measured blood glucose, engaged in therapeutic communication, and educated our new friends on diet and exercise. It was truly so fun interacting with these individuals and a very illuminating experience to hear about all the social and career opportunities that are available for disabled people in Grenada. Additionally, we had the opportunity to educate the staff of women who were working at the Red Cross, on breast cancer and how to perform self-breast examinations. A highlight of our time at the Grenadian Disabilities Association was interacting with some very adorable kiddos, who, after playing with our stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs, expressed their aspirations to become future doctors and nurses.

Television InterviewWhile at the disability center, Dr. Delpech, Carly and Tegan were asked to be interviewed for a local news station. They stepped outside and were asked several questions. They explained the purpose of traveling abroad to Grenada, their role as healthcare professionals while in Grenada and what they expected to learn from the trip and take back with them to the states. During the interview, they explained we were here for general health education and promotion, to perform basic vital signs, breast exams, and blood glucose levels. They spoke about the beauty of Grenada and the beauty of the Grenadian people. We all agree that Grenada will teach valuable lessons, as the people here are touching our hearts as much as we hope we are touching their hearts.

The night ended around seven o’clock in a picture perfect way! All of the students and Dr. Delpech sat by the pool waiting for the interview to be aired on the television! The TV showed many of the students working at the disability center and the interviews of Dr. Delpech, Carly and Tegan. It was a proud moment for all of us and a neat way to reflect on the purpose and success of day three. Afterward, everyone headed to our rooms to get ready for our big day tomorrow at St. George’s Hospital!

March 4, 2018 | Day Two, by Frances Ausley and Susan Aguilar

Belmont Estate

Today was the first day we were able to sleep in! After waking up to the sounds of roosters crowing and birds chirping, we gathered together for breakfast. The breakfast was delicious. We tried a local Grenadian breakfast dish that was made with salt fish and vegetables. After breakfast, we decided to head to the beach, which is just a short five-minute walk from our hotel. The path that led us there was filled with vines and beautiful foliage. The water was filled with shells and some locals going for a morning swim. We enjoyed getting to take a few photos before our day started.  Grenada Beach

Grenada WaterfallAfter the beach, we traveled north to Saint Patrick to visit the Belmont Estate. Belmont Estate is a 400-acre plantation that offers authentic Grenadian cuisine. It was a scenic but bumpy ride as we headed into the mountains. On our way, our driver Trevor stopped at Annandale Waterfalls. The falls were enclosed with rocks containing sulfur, which gave them a muggy orange film covering. At first glance, we saw a serene and calming waterfall that was filled with locals. As we approached the waterfall, we were stopped by community divers, one of whom offered to jump off a 25-foot cliff. Before we knew it, he was up on the cliff, counting down “3-2-1!” and jumped right into five-meter deep water. Luckily, we did not have to perform CPR!

After driving for an hour and half we finally arrived at Belmont Estate, where we were greeted with music. We all sat together at a large table and enjoyed a three-course Grenadian meal. We started with soup, then got to go through a buffet, and ended with some Grenadian desserts. One of the local choices was cayenne pepper ice cream, which was sweet and then spicy. After we ate, the Belmont Plantation staff gave us some insight into Grenadian culture by making some cocoa tea with us and letting us sample it. This drink was similar to what Americans think of as hot chocolate. The process of making it included adding cocoa balls to boiling water and then adding spices like nutmeg, cinnamon sticks and bay leaves. It was delicious! We truly immersed ourselves in the Grenadian culture and food.

March 3, 2018 | Day One, by Claire Cardillo and Heather Tomazin

Grenada Day One SelfieThis morning we all arose to the Caribbean sunshine and sounds of roosters crowing and dogs barking. Most of us would’ve settled for a simple alarm clock, but we are learning that an alarm clock is simply not the Grenadian way. For breakfast, we were greeted with a delicious patio-side buffet and coffee (thank goodness). Then we gathered up our supplies and were off to home visits in Saint Mark, a parish about an hour drive from where we are staying in Saint George Parish. Winding roads chiseled into the curvature of the coast beckoned us all to gaze with wonder. We traversed the oblique mountainside with a sort of desperate hope in our driver Trevor and his expertise.

Grenada Hike in TownDespite the winding roads, we safely made it to our destination. Splitting into groups, we encountered our first community of homes. It was here we met our first patient: an elderly, mentally ill, diabetic, hypertensive amputee, as she would be medically described, but to us, she was merely a kind woman deserving of service and love instead of a superficial diagnostic label.

Our classmates were able to see patients ranging from children to a woman well over 90 years old. We went house-to-house in three neighborhoods, performing blood pressure assessments, blood glucose monitoring and breast exams. This was our first experience witnessing glucometer readings in the 500s. We quickly learned that the biggest barrier to blood sugar control is patient compliance. Many of the community’s patients have prescriptions but do not take them consistently because they say that they “feel fine.” This is a common problem in America as well, particularly with hypertension and high blood sugar.

Grenada FruitWhile we were in St. Mark, we were able to sample some of the local fruits, such as mangoes, cocoa and cherries. The locals were more than happy to show us around and we had a great time talking with them about their experiences living in Grenada.

After about four hours of home visits, we headed to an unknown destination: Dr. Modeste’s home for a home-cooked traditional Grenadian meal of curry chicken and fish. This evening, we were able to share a meal with some graduate nursing students who are visiting Grenada from Boston. We met at Prickly Bay, a restaurant on the waterfront, and shared stories of our experiences so far.

Overall, everyone had a great first day of service and we are all looking forward to learning everything that the people of Grenada can teach us!

March 2, 2018 | Preparation and Travel Day, by Ysabele Barrios, Tegan Pennington and Lauren Perna

Toothbrushes going to GrenadaPreparing for our trip to Grenada was an enriching experience that involved a lot of organization and hard work from each and every one of us! We’ve been meeting on Monday mornings from 9-11 a.m. since the beginning of the spring 2018 semester to plan our itinerary, collect supplies, learn about traveling safely, and about the country of Grenada.

Supplies going to Grenada Study AbroadOne of our big projects to implement in Grenada is the distribution of dental supplies to many of the locals. Each of us went into our own communities and organizations and asked everybody to collect as many supplies as they could to donate. During our last class session on February 26, we sorted all of the supplies into toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss and partitioned everything into individual plastic bags so that we can easily distribute them.Toothbrushes going to Grenada

During the several class sessions we had leading up to our departure, we each individually wrote a pre-travel reflection paper discussing our reasons for going, expectations of the trip, as well as new interests. We also read The Civically Engaged Reader: A Diverse Collection of Short Provocative Readings on Civic Activity and reflected upon our given concepts related to participating in an International Study Abroad program. A few guest speakers came to our class, including a Skype conference call with Dr. Stacciarini, who gave us advice about her previous trips. Other guest speakers talked about how to create e-portfolios, travel safety and infectious diseases. Dr. Delpech said to be careful drinking the tap water or prepare for an upset stomach!

Grenada Study Abroad group in airportGrenada Study Abroad passports

Our flight left from Miami International Airport and we wouldn’t truly experience the reality of international traveling without having to frantically meet the weight limit for our luggage. You know it’s going to be a great start to the trip when half of the group’s luggage is a good six pounds over the limit! We tried smooth talking our way out of the situation, but the gate agents wouldn’t give in. Nonetheless, after emptying bags and rearranging most of our clothes, and let’s not forget the thousands of toothbrushes and toothpastes, we finally all managed to meet the weight limit.

Our first flight was about four hours long and boy was it a bumpy one, but hey, food came and saved the day! Most of us were under the impression that we were going to starve ourselves until we got to Grenada, but when that flight attendant came up the aisle with trays of food, there was a twinkle in everyone’s eye and a smile from ear to ear. Airplane food may not have a good reputation, but the teriyaki chicken and soy noodles definitely negated that.

Grenada Study Abroad in Trinidad & TobagoWe landed in the Port of Spain and waited two hours for our connecting flight to Grenada. Once we finally boarded the flight to Grenada, we were surprised that it only took 30 minutes to get there! We landed and proceeded through customs and found Ms. Hopkins, Ms. Simmons and Trevor waiting for us. We have been communicating with them for the past two months to coordinate this trip, so it was exciting to finally meet them. We all piled into the bus and Trevor loaded up all the luggage for us. When we arrived, we ate Mrs. Hopkins’ homemade dinner, including cake, bread, salad, macaroni salad and passion fruit juice. The hotel is absolutely beautiful, including a pool, a small bar and plenty of flowers surrounding all of the individual villas.

We are excited to see what tomorrow will bring!

March 2, 2018 | Preview

A group of University of Florida College of Nursing BSN students will spend their spring break in the Caribbean. Led by Dr. Paula Delpech, the Gator Nurses hit the road for the island of Grenada March 2 for the week-long educational service trip. Delpech, a native of Trinidad, boasts research and scholarship interests that include international service learning, global health and health disparities, with an emphasis on the Caribbean and the Caribbean diaspora. The students will be blogging and sending pictures all week as they take in the enriching educational opportunity of a lifetime. Follow their adventures here!