Students from the Universidad Latina de Costa Rica’s (ULatina) campus in Santa Cruz are on the frontlines assisting migrants coming into the country from around the world. In a small camp for migrants in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica, teams from ULatina have been providing much-needed medical and psychological care for those in very vulnerable situations. The project was born out of a partnership between the institution’s department of nursing and a number of government organizations, and already is providing vital care.
Dr. Nery Parada Bonilla, director of the school of nursing at ULatina, initiated the project in 2016 after seeing the immense need in the migrant camp and realizing how her nursing students would benefit from hands-on experience working with patients. The government of the municipality of Guanacaste, Ministry for Migration and Immigration, Ministry of Health, and the National Commission for Emergencies, are all partners in the outreach.
Those served by the outreach, around 200 people, come from all over the world to Costa Rica, many from African nations, and also from other Latin American countries. They flee persecution, injustice, poverty, and a multitude of other situations. Their medical and psychological needs are varied, and the team from ULatina has done its best to meet them, deploying an interdisciplinary approach that involves participation from the nursing, psychology, physical therapy, optometry, and social work departments. Each week, small teams from ULatina, involving 37 students so far, visit the camp and attend to patients.
“There is no need for these people to feel marginalized or underserved,” Bonilla said. “And for our students, it allows them to have a humanitarian perspective on nursing and medical care.”