Ann Maltby Travels Back to Bolivia for Six Months as a Clinical Nurse

Editor’s Note: This is a series of stories about Vicksburg High School graduates and some of the interesting jobs they now perform in the outside world. 

By Sue Moore

Always searching for a way to help people, Ann Maltby of Vicksburg returned to Bolivia, the long-ago site of her three-year stint in the Peace Corp, to spend the last six months as a clinical nurse helping indigent families with their health issues.

A 1997 graduate of Vicksburg High School, Maltby started her career in the Peace Corp in 2002 as an agronomist since she majored in agriculture in college. Seeing the dire need for health care in the villages of Bolivia, she returned to the states and entered nursing school at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. Upon graduation, she settled in Vicksburg with husband Wally, who she had married in Bolivia, to begin a stint as an ICU nurse at Bronson Hospital.

Because she is a runner, she and her family organized the very successful Frostbite 5K race in 2011 as part of the Chamber’s Ice Festival. Two years ago, she also joined the Navy Reserve as a nurse, spending one weekend per month and two weeks annually doing training exercises, physical health assessments for sailors in the reserves.

Then the itch to help in Bolivia returned. She found a spot as a volunteer with Centro Medico Humberto Parra a free clinic in the rain forest area of the country and joined other doctors and nurses from the U.S. who were just as committed as Ann to treat Type II diabetes and parasites among other chronic and acute illnesses which can ravage the poorest people of Bolivia.

Here is a sample of Maltby’s notes to family and friends about her experiences through – January 3, 2013.

“After a couple of weeks with Wally’s family in Villa Esperanza for Christmas and the New Year, I have arrived at the clinic where I will be working for the next few months. We are about 70 km from the city of Santa Cruz and then about three miles down a bumpy muddy road from the community of Palacios (about 300+ people). The clinic is surrounded by thick brush scattered with palm trees, wild boars, snakes, lots of birds and the occasional monkey, which I have yet to see. Most of the land around the clinic was thick forest that was deforested for cattle and has started to fill back in where the cattle or farming hasn’t been able to keep up with the natural growth. There are really no other houses or buildings anywhere near the clinic; it’s a strange location to provide free healthcare in, but it works.“

“People come from the outlying communities to the clinic from Wednesday through Saturday. They come mainly for management of their chronic diseases. Diabetes is especially prevalent here as well as high blood pressure. Treatment is free or a very minimal fee. We mostly see adults because children can receive free treatment up until they are 5 years old at any hospital in Bolivia.

“I am teaming up with super nurse Maria, who basically ran the clinic single handedly when it first started. We help take care of any patients who need more immediate attention at the clinic like those who come in with really high blood sugars or are extremely dehydrated and need IV fluids. We are also going to organize the health education program and hopefully get out into the communities to do some parasite education and treatment. Maria has a lot of work for me. “

Now back at her job at Bronson as a bedside nurse in the medical ICU unit, Maltby specializes in cardiac and surgical patient care. The South County News will continue to publish some of

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