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USM Nurse Anesthesia Team Participates in Mission Trip to Honduras

Mon, 06/06/2022 - 09:13am | By: Van Arnold

Collage of photos from the trip“More than Medicine” - a motto embraced by Baptist Medical Dental Mission International (BMDMI) was thrust into action recently during a 40-person surgical team’s assignment in Guaimaca, Honduras.

The team was comprised of healthcare personnel from the Hattiesburg area as well as one faculty member and four students from The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Nurse Anesthesia Program. Part of an annual mission through BMDMI, the medical team performed an astounding 82 procedures in just three-and-a-half days. 

Dr. Stephanie Parks, Assistant Professor in USM’s Nurse Anesthesia Program, led the University’s contingent that also included students Laura Beth Hailey, Alexa Hogan, Luke Leblanc and Reed Thames. This marked the first time that any of them had participated in a BMDMI mission.

Parks notes that the mission work aligns perfectly with the University’s vision to teach students to thrive in a global society, regardless of borders and economic diversity.

“The anesthesia care delivered in the Honduran communities on this medical mission embodies the University’s commitment to wellness and the students’ professional development as future certified registered nurse anesthetists,” said Parks.

The first Honduran BMDMI workers began church-planting ministries in 1968. After seeing the great health needs that existed, they began inviting medical and dental teams to minister to the overwhelming population needs. The ministry of these teams served as a platform for sharing the good news of the Gospel to the masses. The Centro Medico de Especialidades is a modern hospital located in Guaimaca, Honduras used by BMDMI missionaries to perform medical services such as lab work, X-rays, and surgery.

Surgical procedures performed during the mission ranged from cosmetic malformation repairs, dental extractions, gynecological procedures, hernia repairs, and orthopedic procedures. 

As far as highlights from the experience, Parks points to the care provided for a child who suffered a fractured radius after falling from a mango tree the day before the team’s arrival.

“Though he was scared, he walked into the operating room with his arm held in a makeshift sling. We were all impressed with his bravery and trust in us as we held him while he drifted off to sleep for the procedure,” said Parks.

The students recounted their fondest memories as well:

Laura Beth Hailey, a native of Louisville, Miss.

“My most memorable moment from the trip was seeing the patients in pre-op being individually prayed over before surgery as well as the joy and thankfulness the patients had when they woke up once their surgery was complete. It’s powerful to see how much we take for granted.”

Alexa Hogan, a native of Meridian, Miss.

“I think my most memorable was each day walking in to pre-op to get my patients and seeing how happy these people were to see us and get their surgery. We take so much for granted here in the U.S. with everything at our fingertips. Which goes along with how appreciative the Honduran people were when we took them fresh water one afternoon. It was amazing to see their response not only to getting the surgery they’ve waited a long time for, but also taking them fresh water – something we never have to worry about back home. Very eye-opening.”

Luke Leblanc, a native of Gluckstadt, Miss.

“My most memorable moment was providing the anesthesia for one of the mission workers for BMDMI that is from Honduras and then her eating lunch and praying over our meal before we ate. Seeing the resiliency of the patient and how quickly she went back to work was amazing.”

Reed Thames, a native of Gluckstadt, Miss.

“My favorite moment was seeing the Gospel preached in pre-op in English and Spanish, and one lady accepting Christ.”

While certainly grueling, the trip did include some rewarding down-time. Parks and her team had the opportunity to create more than 30 balloon animals for the village children on the final day.

To summarize why this type of mission work is so significant, Parks said: “Mission work is not only important for the underserved people of Honduras, but for the person that take their time and talents to some of the most remote locations in the world. Whether they are practicing Hattiesburg physicians, or young anesthesia students, everyone has a talent and gift to share with populations less fortunate than our own.”

To learn more about the Nurse Anesthesia Program at USM, call 601.266.5527 or visit: