Community Service Alumni Award

Photo of Sarah Bradbury, Nursing graduate

Sarah Bradbury
2013 Community Service Alumni Award Recipient
Class of 2009, AS Nursing

Sarah Bradbury graduated from Goodwin College in 2009 with an associate in nursing and from the University of Hartford in 2012 with a bachelor of science in nursing. While attending Goodwin College, Sarah was employed at Hartford Hospital as a patient care assistant, but shortly after graduating, she secured a position as registered nurse in the Emergency Department.

Sarah’s passion for nursing and caring for others has transcended the Hartford Hospital doors and changed the lives of many.

Approximately one year after Sarah started her new role at Hartford Hospital, the world experienced one of the worst natural disasters - a devastating earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 that hit Haiti in January 2010.

Despite the harmful aftereffects, many people from around the globe made their way to Haiti in an effort to restore the country and aid its victims.

Goodwin’s own Sarah Bradbury was one of those responders.

It had been one month since the earthquake, so while the initial trauma was over, people were still sick and injured and needed help.

After experiencing a few obstacles, such as a canceled flight, a broken down bus and being stuck at the Haitian border, Sarah and 26 others finally made it to Haiti unharmed.

Sarah resided in Cabaret, Haiti, a town about 30 miles outside the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. She and one other nurse and two doctors set up a three-day clinic in two days, and nearly 300 people from surrounding villages utilized the clinic for care.

Sarah and her team had no diagnostic equipment to work with. All they had to rely on was a blood pressure cuff, stethoscope, portable pulse oximeter, an oral thermometer and clinical assessment skills. It was a guessing game and time for Sarah to put her education and experience at Hartford Hospital to the test.

Thankfully, as a result of generous donations from hundreds of organizations, there was a fairly well-stocked pharmacy.

Sarah saw patients that simply needed wellness visits to patients that needed IVs, had dangerously low blood pressure, skin rashes, new allergies, upper respiratory tract infections and palpitations.

One of the first patients Sarah cared for was an 85-year-old woman who had an extremely high heart rate. There was no way for Sarah to know exactly what was wrong with her because of the language barrier, so she gave her fluid intravenously and Reglan for nausea. She was able to get the woman’s heart rate down to 110. Almost as soon as she arrived, Sarah also cared for a young boy who had malaria.

Sarah and her team later traveled to a village called Messier in an effort to aid patients there. The clinic was set up in a windowless building with no doors and cracks in the walls. Patients were examined while sitting in chairs and exam rooms were created using string and sheets. Sarah had fewer resources here than in Cabaret.

When Sarah arrived, she expected earthquake victims, but what she got were women and children with various infections that had gone untreated.

Though Sarah had limited resources, she prides herself in knowing that she could still be a nurse in a Third World country and help sick people who desperately needed it. She was honored and grateful that she could show her patients that she could help them without using words, and left Haiti hoping that she made a difference.

As a result of her medical mission work in Haiti, Sarah received the 2010 Connecticut Health Case Association Health Care Hero Award for demonstrating outstanding commitment in leading, representing and serving hospitals and other health-care related organizations.

Sarah’s international service work did not end in Haiti. In October 2012, Sarah made her way to County Kildare, Ireland to volunteer at Barretstown, a specially-designed camp that provides therapeutic recreation programs for children with serious illnesses and their families. Barretstown is based off of the original Hole in the Wall Gang Camp started by Paul Newman in Ashford, Connecticut.

During her time at Barretstown, Sarah took part in the Bereavement Reunion, where families of children who had died found comfort from one another. As part of the bereavement process, families came to the camp three different times and were invited back for a final reunion in order to see how far they had come since losing their loved ones. It was also a chance for the families to take part in fun activities at the camp.

Sarah played an important role during the families’ final visit. She played the role of a “cara,” which means “friend” in Gaelic. As a cara or counselor, Sarah was involved with two families, both of whom lost their sons to leukemia. Sarah made sure the two families had nothing short of a great time at the camp. She went to carnivals and horseback riding with them, set their dinner table, made their tea, lent an ear and shoulder to cry on and laughed and cried with them.

While she was not saving lives this time, Sarah describes her experience as equally as rewarding. She was humbled that she was able to be a part of the families’ healing process and that they were comfortable enough to open up to her.

Sarah plans on volunteering at Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Connecticut and going back to Barretstown in the future.

Sarah has made outstanding contributions to international communities in the delivery of health care and beyond. Her work has made a lasting impact that has touched the lives of many and will be remembered for years to come.