Local Nurses Honored for Tsunami Relief

By: Althea Paul
By: Althea Paul

July 18, 2005

A couple of UVA nurses are among a group set to receive top honors for their weeks of caring for those hit hardest by the Tsunami.

When the tsunami devastated Asia late last year, Dan Stone and Gabrielle Bergman wanted to do something.

"I know a lot of people in my profession just had this overwhelming desire to go over there," said Bergman.

The nurses from the University of Virginia Medical Center decided to volunteer with Project Hope, an organization that provides medical care for people around the globe.

"I thought, 'well, this is a great opportunity. This is something that's going to be an area of the world that needs help'," said Bergman.

The mission took them aboard the Navy hospital ship, U.S.S Mercy, in Banda Ache where they alongside many others, provided care for those who needed it most.

"A lot of kids that had pneumonia, this thing called Tsunami Lung, where they were either held under water or just had been drifting out at sea, [holding on to wood that kind of thing for a day or two and] they would just suck in a lot of sea water, dirty sea water," said Bergman.

However, it soon became clear injuries and illnesses where not only limited to the disaster. They also saw thousands of patients with chronic conditions.

"We pulled thousands of teeth, we set a lot of broken bones, we treated a lot of cancer," said Stone.

Stone spent about five weeks with Project Hope, Bergman two months. Now, that journey has lead the nurses to another experience of a lifetime, breakfast with the president of the United States, who will be honoring Stone, Bergman and many others who worked with Project Hope.

"It's a pretty exciting thing. It's certainly something that I hadn't seen coming," said Stone.

"I didn't think I'd do anything in my life that would get me to the White House," joked Bergman.

It's proof that sometimes, good deeds do get noticed. Over 100 other Project Hope volunteers from across the country are scheduled to be recognized by President Bush also on Thursday, July 21.

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