Sharing Compassion Near & Far
Nurse Monica Reinsch was working at a Texas hospital in January 2010 when the infamously destructive 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, leaving the country and its people in tatters. Immediately, she felt a calling to use her abilities as a nurse to help with relief work. "I asked God to show me faith with absolute abandon. I knew something bigger was going on in this picture," she recalled. She found Angel Staffing, an organization that coordinates relief efforts after natural disasters, and put her name on the list of nurses being considered to go.
She sent the Email to Angel Staffing on a Tuesday. By Wednesday she was getting immunizations, and by Saturday she had packed and driven home to Hilton Head Island, and flew out of Miami to Haiti. Angel Staffing sent her to an orphanage where children, aged four months to 18 years, sought refuge after the disaster. The orphanage was capped at a capacity of 80 children, but following the earthquake, it was filled with more than 150 kids who were in desperate need of care and attention. Monica explained that while her nursing qualifications were certainly important, her biggest job was healing bumps, kissing bruises and showering these children with love and attention through the toughest experience of their lives. "They needed someone there to comfort them. It's the little things that are most important, like hugs, playing with them, and just making them feel good," Monica said. The job was around-the-clock, as Monica and another nurse lived in the nurses' quarters of the orphanage. The children became a constant presence in their lives, and after their 15-day shift ended, Monica left Haiti missing the children she had become attached to, but filled to the brim with incredible memories and a new lifelong friend, Angie, the nurse she was partnered with. "Together, we dove straight in and made a great team," Monica said.
Traveling with her job is not uncommon for Monica. Not only did she spend a semester abroad in Australia during her undergraduate education at the College of Charleston, she has incorporated travel into her professional life too by becoming a traveling nurse. This means she takes contracts in different cities, as needed. "After nursing school [at Technical College of the Lowcountry], I knew I wanted to travel," she explained. "I got my year of experience at Hilton Head Hospital which was a great opportunity. Then I went to Texas with a friend and we found local contract work there," and that's where she was when the earthquake struck. The Haiti timing was perfect because her contract in Texas was up, and upon returning from the orphanage, she took a contract in Denver, where she is now. Monica explained that using traveling nurses is quite common in the healthcare industry. Hospitals around the country have needs that arise that surpass the capabilities or supply of nurses in that particular local area. There are many staffing agencies for nurses, and Monica typically takes 13-week assignments. This quick pace ensures a variety of responsibilities, perfect for Monica, who has many interests and passions. "I tried corporate jobs, but never found a fit." In fact, Monica's undergraduate degree is in journalism, not anything health-related. "I prayed heavily about it, that I would find something I would enjoy, and nursing was the blessing, because I get to help people and see the impact immediately. My calling hit me like a ton of bricks; it just fell into place."
Monica's mother, Patsy, said that Monica is "perfect as a nurse. She has the best heart. She really cares about people. I'm so glad she found nursing." Monica's home-base hospital is Hilton Head Hospital, where Patsy also works. Monica works there between travel contracts, and Patsy laughs that there are days where she'll take care of a patient during surgery, then wheel the patient to Monica for post-operation care. "It's a great feeling to look down the hallway and see [my daughter] taking care of patients," Patsy said. Monica is following in her mother's footsteps, footsteps that are quite impressive. Patsy was named Nurse of the Year at Hilton Head Hospital last year, and Monica was an integral part of that surprise, presenting her mother with the award. Caring for others selflessly runs in this family, it seems.
Favorite guilty pleasure foods: Lime Tostidos and Dark Chocolate M&Ms
Favorite Disney Princess: Cinderella, I'm old school, I appreciate a classic romance.
Fitness routine: Running and dancing are staples, you can do them anywhere, anytime. I love playing tennis, wakeboarding, surfing, and beach volleyball. And of course, hiking since I've been in Denver.
Favorite board game: I was more into card games, UNO, Spit, and Rummy were great.
Words to live by: One of God's many amazing promises: "Watch, and be utterly amazed, for I am going to do something in your days you would not believe, even if you were told." (Habakkuk 1:5) This reminds me not to place limits on life, there is no cap to God's power and faithfulness.