Exceptional Care That Transforms.

We Are Memorial: Nurse Practitioner Diane Edrington improves lives in remote regions of the world  

“If no one knows I exist, no one knows I live.”

Diane Edrington, Nurse Practitioner

This is the bedrock of Diane Edrington’s life mission. She is a family nurse practitioner at Memorial Health System who has taken care of patients along the Mississippi Gulf Coast for more than 20 years. For just as long, she’s traveled to some of the most remote areas of the world to care for Indigenous people in Central and South America, the nomads of the Sahara, and villagers along the Nile River.

Diane says, “Over the years, I have been blessed to travel to many foreign fields. I now know of their existence and that they live with little or no access to healthcare.”

Providing global care

Her work with Panama Missions, a nonprofit sponsored by the churches of Christ, began 22 years ago with the goal of providing healthcare to people deep within the Darién Province in Panama. Now, she is the Medical Director of the organization. “It has become my passion over the years to not only provide and teach healthcare but to also understand the diseases and ailments that come from the jungle environment.”

In 2009, Diane was accepted to the Gorgas Institute of Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease in Lima, Peru. There she experienced intense studies among the experts in tropical diseases, giving her a greater opportunity to provide better care in fieldwork.

Making a difference

Edrington during mission

“To hear a tribal chief thank you and your team over and over for returning to help their people in preventing illnesses, or to see the face of a mother after her infant with febrile seizures recovers because you were there to provide medications is a life-changing experience.” She continues, “Teaching simple hygiene, the use of soap for washing, and filtering drinking water; these things are simple to us but cause life-threatening diseases for others. Every year millions around the world die from waterborne diseases. Clean water has been a major project for Panama Missions to invest in to help prevent these illnesses.”

Changing lives

Edrington with First Lady of Panama

Diane travels to Panama several times each year, staying in regions for two weeks at a time, and working around the clock in multiple villages. Her work is always humbling, as she explains when asked about her most memorable case. “I was treating an elderly lady with an upper respiratory infection. She had four young grandchildren surrounding her that she was raising. I gave her directions in Spanish on how to take the medication, always after a meal to prevent stomach upset. I repeated the instructions and she put her head down as tears flowed down her face. I asked my interpreter if I said something wrong and she began to tell me that the lady could not take the medication because she had no food. At that moment, my life changed forever. Never again would I assume anything. Medical mission work is far more than prescribing medications. It’s becoming involved in the lives of those you treat.”

She adds, “Even if you do not have a medical background, there are so many ways you can contribute to this work. Panama Missions has a variety of projects planned throughout the year that need volunteers with all skill sets: teachers, repairmen, construction, and helpers of all backgrounds.”

Related Articles

View More Related Articles