By Denise Richardson
A local nurse who studied for a month in Jamaica last year returned with a desire to help patients there.
Nanette Root of Cooperstown spent the past year coordinating an effort to send a retiring anesthesia machine donated by O'Connor Hospital in Delhi to the Princess Margaret Hospital in Morant Bay in Jamaica.
"I'm very excited for them _ that they'll be able to have this newer piece of equipment," Root said Thursday.
The anesthesia machine is in Kingston, Jamaica, pending an unknown delivery date to the hospital, according to Root, who recently went to Jamaica with Hartwick College nursing students. Shipping delays meant she had to leave before the machine reached the hospital, she said.
Root, a registered nurse who works in the operating room, has been employed at Bassett Medical Center for 13 years. As a student in the Partnership for Nursing Opportunities Program, a venture offered by Bassett Medical Center and Hartwick College in Oneonta, Root took courses for two years to earn a Bachelor of Science degree. She finished her studies in December and will graduate in May.
While with Hartwick students in Jamaica during the January term last year, Root said, she was invited to observe an operation at the Princess Margaret Hospital, when the need for an anesthesia machine became apparent.
"I was so impressed by the excellent care being given by the nurses there, despite extremely limited resources," Root said. After returning to work at Bassett, she began "asking around" and found out about the anesthesia machine at O'Connor, which is part of the Bassett Healthcare Network.
The machine, worth a couple of thousand dollars, has many serviceable years remaining but might have gone to the scrap pile if it hadn't been "rescued," Root said.
Maureen Murray, a registered nurse and director of professional nursing practice at Bassett, said Root has melded her knowledge as an operating room nurse who cares for individual patients with a passion to help a less-fortunate community.
"I admire her," said Murray, who is chairwoman of the Nightingale Fund for Nursing Excellence Advisory Board. The fund, established through the Friends of Bassett, contributed $500 toward shipping the machine to Jamaica, Murray said. Root's humanitarian project "fit perfectly" with goals of the fund, Murray said.
Root praised Bassett and O'Connor Hospital for the donation of the machine and support for shipping it. "It's definitely not a one-person project," she said.
Bertine Colombo McKenna, executive vice president and chief operating officer, said Bassett has been privileged to be involved with a variety of humanitarian efforts.
"The donation to the hospital in Jamaica is the most recent example," McKenna said. "The heart of Bassett is its very compassionate staff, always looking for ways to help others near and far."
Root, 53, graduated from Mohawk Valley Community College in 1980 after earning a two-year degree to become a registered nurse. She waited until her children, Jessica, 23, and Kenneth, 21, left for college to enroll in the Bassett/Hartwick nursing program.
Root, who originally is from West Winfield, said her dreams of attending the Hartwick nursing program and earning a bachelor's degree have grown into visions of matching the needs of hospitals with equipment that is being replaced.
The $1,500 cost to ship the machine has been met, Root said, but she continues to seek donations for shipments of future donations. She said contributions may be sent to the Nursing Students Without Borders, Nursing Department, P.O. Box 4020, Hartwick College, Oneonta 13820.
"We take so much for granted in the U.S. and we have so much," Root said.
"These very poor communities overseas accomplish a great deal with very little."