Caring for hundreds of families stranded in Uganda’s makeshift shelters is a world away from Janey Pinneo’s normal nursing responsibilities at Seattle’s Children’s Hospital. The Issaquah volunteer for Medical Teams International and wife of Horizon Air CEO Jeff Pinneo recently returned from the war-torn country where more than one million people are waiting to safely return to their homes and villages.
Pinneo was joined by Seattle area volunteers Dr. Ken Klein, Dr. Dave Wukasch and nurse MaryBeth Mitchell for a four-week assignment in northern Uganda. The team visited three to four different camps for displaced people each week, providing critically needed medical care to thousands of families who otherwise are without health care.
“Janey has brought so much to families who are struggling simply to survive,” said Dick Frederick, executive director of Medical Teams International’s Washington office. “Her compassion and her nursing skills provided families with desperately needed medical attention and a message that Americans care about their suffering.”
This was Pinneo’s second assignment in Uganda. She previously volunteered for Medical Teams International in Louisiana helping evacuees during Hurricane Katrina and in El Salvador providing relief to earthquake victims.
The Ugandan mobile medical clinics operated by Medical Teams International are the only health care services available to the families. Medical volunteers and local staff have provided care for more than 145,000 people—many of them young mothers with infants and the elderly. Malaria, severe upper respiratory infections and chronic diarrhea in the displaced camps often become deadly because of the lack of medicines.
Medical Teams International has been working in the region since June 2004, deploying medical volunteers to provide health services, medicines and local training to Ugandan health workers. Partnering with the local Ministry of Health and Ugandan health workers, Medical Teams International opened the Ogur Youth Information and Care Center in September 2007. It is the only facility in the area to provide youth-focused HIV and AIDS testing, counseling and treatment. The organization is also refurbishing a health clinic and birthing center in another community destroyed by the rebel attacks.