Helping others has always been a passion for Carroll native Jamie Waller. It’s why she pursued a career in nursing at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge and it’s why she participated in a three-week mission trip to Tanzania in Africa following her freshman year of nursing school.
“After going to Africa, I discovered that nursing was my true passion in life,” Waller said. “It confirmed my interest in serving others and solidified my decision to become a nurse.”
Today, Waller is a registered nurse and six-year veteran of St. Anthony Regional Hospital in Carroll. She works on the medical, surgical and pediatric floor and often serves the role as charge nurse. But her commitment to serving others extends beyond her daily shifts.
In November 2016, newlyweds Jamie and her husband, Cory, ventured to Haiti with Grace4Haiti, a medical mission group based in Omaha. The couple joined the team’s 15th trip with the purpose to work in a hospital setting, perform medical services, prepare patients for surgery, assist surgeons, and care for patients in a hospital.
Jamie shares that she grew both personally and professionally from the experience.
“We saw many, many patients in the clinic every day and performed small procedures in the clinics if able,” Waller said. “I realized on this trip that we have many luxuries we take for granted here in the in U.S. – things as simple as running water and electricity in every health care facility, and features as complex as all of the technology and supplies we have available. It was an eye-opening experience.”
Yet, most memorable of all, Jamie recalls two premature infants the medical mission workers saved during their stay.
One afternoon several of the mission team members walked to the beach during a short break from the hospital. As they were walking back, additional group members met them with the urgent message that an abandoned, premature baby had just been dropped off at the hospital.
“Luckily, we had the biggest group at the hospital that week, because at the same time this baby was struggling to breathe, another mother was having a scheduled C-section,” Waller said. “Once we delivered the baby via C-section, we knew right away the baby was not 40 weeks along. We had to cardiopulmonary resuscitate the baby for a short while and perform other medical techniques for this child to survive.”
Within hours, the medical team had both babies stabilized and transferred them to a nearby hospital, a couple hours away. The infants were transported in the missionaries’ vans, because there is no organized ambulance service in Haiti.
“I truly felt the difference our team was making in that moment to help those babies,” Waller said. “We used the resources and skillsets we had available to provide great care. Had our team not been there, I don’t believe they would have lived.”
Waller is grateful for the support of St. Anthony, which provided supplies and a mission trip support fund to match her employee vacation hours.
“St. Anthony’s generous donations were an invaluable asset for our trip,” Waller said. “We used many supplies while there. Every little bit counts and each donation helps to lessen the burden of providing health care in Haiti. The vacation match program also helped my husband and me financially with the trip. It meant the world to us.”
Jamie encourages others to partake in the same types of endeavors. She and Cory are leading by example, returning to Haiti in April with the hopes of spending more time in orphanages to show their support of Haitian children and continuing the relationships they built in November.
“I felt God’s presence many times while there – whether it was getting to know the people around me or guiding my hands while working with patients,” Waller said. “I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. My husband and I went on this trip to serve God and show love to other parts of the world by hugging someone that needs a hug or providing life or death care to a newborn baby. I am incredibly blessed and grateful for the opportunity to help others.”