Nurse’s Inspiration Leads to a Permanent Health Clinic in Uganda

Posted on Apr 4, 2016

Emily Rymland with patient

Emily Rymland, R.N., and patient

Em’s Health Clinic — the first permanent health clinic in remote western Uganda — is open every day all year round caring for close to 300 patients per month.

When Emily Rymland first traveled to East Africa in 1985 she was exposed to the devastation caused by “Slims Disease,” now known as AIDS. Shortly after returning home from that trip, one of her best friends in San Francisco was diagnosed with AIDS. At that moment, Rymland committed to fighting the deadly disease and improving the well being of those in need.

In the early 1990s she attended nursing school at Samuel Merritt University focusing on HIV care and while earning her master’s degree specializing in outpatient HIV care she also became a family nurse practitioner. Throughout her professional career Rymland has dedicated herself to helping people with HIV and AIDS.

In 2014 and 2015, Rymland, RN, MSN, FNP-C, nurse practitioner at Sutter Health’s Alta Bates Summit East Bay AIDS Center (EBAC) in Oakland, led a team of nurses on medical excursions to Uganda that treated more than 1,200 residents for malaria, worms, typhoid fever, HIV/AIDS and a wide range of other ailments.

“When our team of care providers was flying home from Uganda, I could not stop wondering what would happen to those people that we had taken care of,” says Rymland. “This inspired me to come back to the U.S. and raise funds to open a year round health care clinic.”

Thanks to Rymland’s inspiration, fundraising efforts and devotion to improving public health in Buseesa, Uganda, Em’s Health Clinic – the area’s first permanent health clinic — was constructed in 2014. The clinic is open 365 days a year and cares for nearly 300 people each month.

EMS-clinic

Em’s Clinic and staff in Buseesa, Uganda

“The clinic is staffed with a clinical officer, a nurse, a midwife and a lab technician and is powered by solar energy,” says Rymland. “We treat a high number of malaria and typhoid cases, as well as multiple skin infections, diarrheal illness and respiratory infections. Additionally we de-worm all of the surrounding children every three months.”

The clinic screens people for HIV and those that are positive are linked to a government HIV clinic where they are able to get free antiretroviral drugs. Contraception services are also available. Because most people in Buseesa live on less than $20 a month, the clinic doesn’t charge for time spent with a clinician and only charges patients for the cost of medicines or tests plus 15 percent.

EMS-staff

Em’s Clinic staff members

“We want all of the people to be able to access care and we are committed to ensuring this going forward,” adds Rymland. “I am also working to expand our services and I am currently raising money for a deep water well, solar pump and heater to provide clean water for the clinic, the staff and the community at large.”

If you or someone you know would like to support this project, visit http://buseesacommunity.org/ or email Rymland at emilyrt@gmail.com.

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