Mercy Hospital Nurse Volunteers In The Philippines

Thursday, January 2nd 2014, 10:00 pm
By: News 9

Workers from two Mercy Hospitals have returned to Oklahoma following a medical relief mission to the Philippines.

A typhoon tore through the southeast Asian country in November, leaving behind massive damage.

Reagan Hightower is an ER nurse at Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City. She helped out with the Joplin and Moore tornadoes, and said she wanted to go to the Philippines as soon as she saw the devastation.

"That was a pretty eye-opening experience," said Hightower.

Hightower served in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 6,000 people, and left another 1,800 missing.

"Massive destruction. I knew I had made the right decision to go as soon as I got off the plane because there was so much to do," explained Hightower.

The 25-year-old nurse went with a medical relief organization called "Heart to Heart" and set up mobile clinics. Many of the people she treated had never seen a doctor in their life and they were grateful for help.

"The people of the Philippines were so uplifting and they were so encouraging to one another," Hightower recalled.

Hightower slept in a tent and woke up before sunrise, seeing up to 300 people each day, which is twice the load of an emergency room in the Oklahoma City metro.

"I don't feel like I did anything out of the ordinary. I feel more like when can I get back and keep helping," Hightower said.

Hightower is one of two Mercy Hospital workers who made the trip to the Philippines. Dr. Dan McKinley from Mercy Hospital Ardmore returned from the storm-ravaged area just days before Hightower left for her trip. Volunteer work is a source of pride for the hospital system.

"Having people do specifically what Reagan has done is exciting and it's also encouraging for those of us who can't always go," said Jim Gebhart, President of Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City.

Hightower said her mission is simply to help people, near and far.

"You can see the changes start to happen right in front of you because there is so much to be done, so the little things that you do kind of just start to add up," she said.

Hightower arrived four weeks after the typhoon and she treated some people who still had not received medical attention for their injuries.