Retired Nurse Celebrates National Nurses Week by Preparing for 60th Medical Mission with Global Children’s Charity, Operation Smile
Helping others is a way of life for Linda Highfield. “I have a passion for people. Giving back completes me,” said Highfield, an Operating Room Nurse who recently retired from Ohio Health Hospital Systems.
Highfield’s volunteerism began in 1992 when she donated her time and skills to Operation Smile, an international children’s charity that provides free surgeries for those born with cleft lip, cleft palate or other facial differences. Nearly 30 years later, Highfield has traveled the world, including Latin America, Asia and Africa, to help children born with a cleft lip (tear in the lip) or cleft palate (gap in the roof of mouth). “When I go on these missions I serve as the Clinical Coordinator, which means I set-up screenings, arrange nursing teams, supervise the unpacking and arranging of medical supplies and help with the surgical schedule. Essentially, I’m the first to arrive and the last to leave,” Highfield conveyed.
The grandmother of three knows the pain of a loved one being born with a health condition. Her grandson weighed one pound at birth. “A lot of the kids we help on medical missions don’t have access to world-class hospitals and doctors like we do. Volunteering is my way of helping to change that,” said Highfield.
As the country prepares to celebrate National Nurses Week, May 6-12, Highfield is gearing up for another medical mission. “I’m headed to Peru this month. I’ll be training a clinical coordinator. It’s important we share what we know and do good for others whether it’s across the street or across the world, said Highfield. I plan on volunteering until I can’t walk or talk,” she jokingly added.
About Operation Smile: Operation Smile has provided hundreds of thousands of safe surgeries for those born with cleft lip, cleft palate or other facial condition. With more than three decades of expertise, Operation Smile creates solutions that deliver free surgery to people where it’s needed most. As one of the largest medical volunteer-based nonprofits, Operation Smile has mobilized thousands of medical volunteers from a wide range of medical specialties from more than 80 countries. Operation Smile engages public-private partnerships to advance health care delivery, train local medical professionals to provide surgical care for patients in their communities, donate crucial medical equipment and supplies, and increase access to surgical care so that everyone living with cleft is treated. Visit www.operationsmile.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. ###