Nurse and Doctors Going to Zambia

By: Boone County Health Center

Boone County Health Center (BCHC) Surgery Nurse Heather Noble; Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Dr. Novotny; and Ophthalmologist Dr Diedrichsen will be going to Zambia, Africa to offer healthcare.

“I’ve always liked taking care of people. Since I first became a registered nurse, I’ve thought about going on a medical mission trip,” said Noble. “I work with Dr. Novotny at the Health Center, and she talks about her mission trips. Often, she’ll ask if any of the nurses want to join her. I’ve always wanted to say yes, but just never had the chance. My youngest of three boys graduates from high school this May. So, this time, when Dr. Novotny asked, I said I would love to go!”

This year, there are several nurses and scheduling staff going a week early to screen patients. They will be working at the Chifundo Rural Health Center, on the Ambassador International University (AIU) campus. AIU was started by Gospelink in 2009.

When the doctors arrive, they will see patients for a variety of issues and perform many surgeries such as removing tonsils or masses. As an experienced surgery nurse, Noble will assist the surgeons. “The doctors won’t be able to safely perform surgery on everyone who wants or needs it, but we will try to help as many as we can,” Noble said.

In Zambia, Dr. Novotny’s main focus will be helping people born with a cleft palate or cleft lip. “In the U.S., when we have a baby born with a cleft lip or cleft palate, we fix it as soon as possible. In Zambia, there are children and adults who have never had that chance,” Noble said. “They grow up with trouble eating and communicating and can have social issues too, and that’s just the way it is there.”

“Likewise, when we take care of cataract patients in the U.S., you cannot tell they have cataracts unless you’re looking at their eye with special equipment. However, in Zambia, cataracts don’t get treated early, and the patients go totally blind,” Noble explained. “Once blind, they cannot work, and they require another family member to care for them. But Dr Diedrichsen can perform a surgery that will give them back their sight and allow them to return to the workforce.”

“I feel like I have been blessed growing up in the U.S., getting an education and having three healthy sons. I want to help others,” said Noble. “And the most exciting thing is that Gospelink’s goal is not only to help patients physically but to help them spiritually as well, to share the love of Christ with each patient who comes through their doors.”

The trip is planned for July, but there have been a few obstacles to overcome before then. Noble said, “With a BCHC Surgery Department that’s always adding to its list of surgeries, it’s hard to take a lot of time off work. Also, I don’t just have $3,000 lying around to pay for the trip. Dr. Novotny told me to find out from my supervisor if I could go and not worry about the money. God would provide.”

“At first, when I simply asked for prayers about maybe going to Zambia, it seemed like things started falling into place. I had a friend at church give me $50 right away, which helped pay for my passport. Then, at our yearly meeting, my church decided to give me $500. Later that same day, I found out I needed to send a deposit of $450. I felt like, step by step, God was providing the finances I needed.”

Noble has raised over half the money, but she still needs close to $1,000. The funds will go toward travel expenses, trip insurance, vaccinations, housing costs at the college and other trip needs. “If there is any money left over, I’d like to get some school supplies or gifts for the kids at the orphanage we will be visiting,” Noble said.

Those who would like to support Noble’s cause can mail their tax deductible donation to Albion Evangelical Free Church with “Heather mission trip” in the memo.

“My supervisor at the Health Center gave me her blessing to take the time off, and I have every reason to believe, through the generosity of others, God will provide what I need to get to Zambia.”