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Mission to Tanzania Rejuvinates Midwife

February 28, 2024

Since 1996, Kathy Gauthier has participated in medical missions abroad, primarily to Haiti. A certified nurse midwife with OB/GYN services, who is credentialed to deliver babies at Backus Hospital, Gauthier finds these annual trips to work in remote clinics reaffirming for her career.

Last October, Gauthier and Renee Witkovic, a labor and delivery nurse at Backus, journeyed to Tanzania with an organization called International Medical Relief. They spent 10 days in Arusha, Tanzania, working in a clinic outside the town, next to a church.

The team of 10 consisted of Gauthier, pediatricians, a dentist, a dermatologist, nurse practitioners, and a physician. They saw 1,100 patients in the 10-day visit.

It was the first time Gauthier traveled with IMR and went somewhere other than Haiti. COVID had disrupted her annual Haiti visits, and the political and social upheaval in that country these days made travel there risky.

But the 64-year-old found Africa just as rewarding.

“It’s pretty fast moving,” she says. “It’s very different from medicine in the States. It’s a lot of primary care that we do, a lot of women, some men. A couple of pregnant women, we had a portable ultrasound and I could show them their babies and they could hear their heartbeats. It was the coolest thing.”

They pay for the trip out of their own pocket and use their vacation time, but it’s “worth every penny,” Gauthier says. “It always renews my faith into why I became a nurse. Here, with the hustle and bustle and everything, you can get burned out. On the mission, I remember why I wanted to do this in the first place. I remember that I am here to take care of people.”


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