By Sarrah Peters
Local nurse Connie Gunn recently returned from a mission trip to Malawi, a small poor country in southeast Africa.
Currently the Director of Marketing at HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Gadsden, Gunn previously worked as an RN in surgery. After a refresher course at GRMC, she returned to her role as a surgical RN at Blessings Hospital, a Christian health facility in Lumbadzi, Malawi. It opened in 2000 as an outpatient clinic. Now the hospital provides full inpatient and surgical services. The Malawian medical professionals are assisted by visiting international teams during the year.
Gunn heard about the mission trip through her son, Wes Gunn, the minister of Redland Hills Church in Wetumpka. Wes is also the president of the board of directors for Chikondi Health Foundation.
According to the Chikondi Health Foundations website, the mission of the foundation is to provide support to Blessings Hospital.
The organization works to raise money for the hospital’s supplies and staff and to organize volunteers to travel to Blessings Hospital. The organization even helps to provide education to the Malawi staff.
Blessings is closely associated with the Churches of Christ. As a Christain facility, Blessings Hospital tries to demonstrate the love and compassion of the God they serve. Staff are encouraged to pray with and for their patients. The hospital makes it a point to not discriminate and provides treatment to every patient, regardless of religion, gender or financial status.
Blessings provides a wide range of services to the Malawi locals, including inpatient, outpatient, laboratory, pharmaceutical, obstetric and sugical services.
Connie Gunn helped perform surgeries with other volunteers. During the 10 days she spent there, she helped perform 29 surgeries.
Some of the surgeries included hysterectomies for treatment of cystic tumors, hernia repair and even an emergency C-section.
After telling me how painful cystic tumors are, Gunn remarked, “These people tolerate pain a lot better than we do.”
Gunn’s day began with breakfast and a devotional at 7:30 a.m. Then Gunn would assist with surgeries until between 4:30 and 9 p.m.
This was Gunn’s second trip to Africa. On this trip, she was unable to travel to the nearby town, but said that she visited an open market on the last trip.
This trip, she visited the Blessings Hospital compound’s orphanage, which houses 144 orphans.
“It’s more of a blessing to me than for them,” said Gunn.
For more information, visit www.blessingshospital.com or www.chikondihealth.org.