A Duluth nurse practitioner just back from relief work in the typhoon-ravaged Philippines has written a moving account of her service. Writing in the Duluth News Tribune, Julie Pearce chronicled her work in a mobile hospital in the remote areas of Cebu Island. Pearce specializes in emergency medicine at Essentia Health and is a former reporter for Northland’s NewsCenter, which had a story about her as she departed for two weeks of work.
Pearce shared her story about working alongside local physicians to care for patients suffering from pneumonia, skin infections, fevers and trauma. Conditions were difficult; she tells of watching parents manually ventilating their children to keep them alive.
"I’m humbled by the Filipino spirit," she wrote. "Despite their grief and despite their loss, their gratitude runs deeper than things we can measure by materialism, comfort or abundance. In their world of chaos, they find comfort and gratitude in community, compassion, family, faith, hope and love."
Pearce shared the story of a boy named Edgar. The medical team had trouble bringing down his high fever, and the boy began suffering seizures. Pearce wanted him transferred to a higher level of care. "I carried his limp little body into the tent hospital and laid him down, the pediatric specialists all gathering around," she writes. He was ultimately diagnosed with a brain abscess and had a life-saving craniotomy.
"Before his initial arrival to us, his prognosis was grim. Now, this kid has a real fighting chance," she wrote. "I am hopeful that I can one day come back to the Philippines and see him vibrant and healthy."
Pearce traveled to Haiti to bring medical disaster relief after that country’s 2010 earthquake. She is the founder of the Julie Pearce Medical Relief Team.
Over the holiday weekend, two fundraising efforts were held in the region, in Duluth and in Mason City, Ia., to raise money to aid in the relief efforts in the Philippines.