Patients would start lining up outside the door of the health center at 6 a.m. It was like that every day. For many, it was their first time seeing a doctor.
Heading to Uganda, Prachi Shah wasn’t sure what to expect. She had always wanted to help others, which is what led her to the nursing profession. The Medford resident had spent her childhood traveling to India and Nepal to see family. She spent time in college traveling to Kenya and Tanzania volunteering at an orphanage, helping to teach kindergarten students.
And when Shah had the opportunity to travel to Uganda in January with a service group from Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, the Lahey nurse was more than happy to volunteer.
“When you see how much we have here and how much others don’t have in other countries, I wanted to help,” Shah said. “They’ve done nothing wrong to not have education, to not have health care. This is all stuff we take for granted here, and so I just want to try and help where I can.”
Shah, along with nine other nurses from across the state, will be honored by the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday, May 15 at their annual Red Sox Nurse Appreciation Night. Her colleagues at Lahey nominated Shah for her volunteer efforts in Uganda.
“I really don’t deserve this,” Shah said of the recognition. “Every nurse is incredible. I’m just so happy to be chosen to represent Lahey and to be with so many other special nurses.”
Before her trip to Uganda and before she helped treat the more than 800 patients in the East African country, Shah wanted to ensure she had a lasting impact on the health needs of the community. She decided to purchase laptops for the nurses at the health center so they can institute an Electronic Health Record (EHR). This would streamline patient files, digitize information and allow nurses, who were spending their time scribbling handwritten notes, more time to see patients.
Shah, along with her colleagues at Lahey, raised more than $2,000 to purchase laptop computers for the staff at the Uganda health center.
This is just the beginning for Shah, as she plans on traveling to more countries, volunteering her time and supplying countries with much-needed medical support.
“There’s a real need in underdeveloped countries and I hope to go to many more countries to help,” she said. “Nurses have such an impact on a person’s life, they take care of the whole person – emotionally, spiritually and physically. It really is a privilege and I’m just looking forward to going someplace where I can be of assistance.”