January 19, 2004 - Berkshire Eagle: Anne Hutchinson who spent three years as PCV in Ghana is off to Ethiopia to work with hospitals and health centers

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ghana: Peace Corps Ghana : The Peace Corps in Ghana: January 19, 2004 - Berkshire Eagle: Anne Hutchinson who spent three years as PCV in Ghana is off to Ethiopia to work with hospitals and health centers

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Anne Hutchinson who spent three years as PCV in Ghana is off to Ethiopia to work with hospitals and health centers

Anne Hutchinson who spent three years as PCV in Ghana is off to Ethiopia to work with hospitals and health centers

Barrington nurse to work with team in Ethiopia

By Derek Gentile
Berkshire Eagle Staff

GREAT BARRINGTON -- For most of us, doing a good deed entails shoveling a neighbor's walk, taking in relatives' mail while they are on vacation or perhaps driving mom to the eye doctor.

Anne Hutchinson takes the good-deed concept to another level.

Hutchinson, 56, a nurse practitioneratBerkshirePediatric Associates in Pittsfield and a 20-year resident of Great Barrington, is off to Atlanta tomorrow for 10 days of orientation and training. Then, it's off to Ethiopia to work with hospitals and health centers there as part of the World Health Organization's program to eliminate polio.

"I was raised to help people," said Hutchinson, whose mother was a nurse and whose brother Charles Hutchinson works for an international organization that develops national parks in developing countries to better preserve their resources.

Served in Peace Corps

"It's a bug. I guess that's the best way to describe it," said Anne Hutchinson, a 1969 graduate of Connecticut College who entered the Peace Corps after graduation and who spent three years in Ghana teaching mathematics and science. The Torrington, Conn., native then returned to the United States and earned a master's degree in oceanography from Oregon State University.

From there, she moved on to San Francisco, where she spent seven years working for the U.S. Geological Survey.

"But, eventually, I got sick of dunking my hands in cold water all the time," she joked. She returned to the East Coast and earned a master's degree in nursing from Yale in 1984. She did her thesis work in Tanzania.

In between all this, Hutchinson found time to get married, have a daughter, Jenefer, get divorced and get married again. Her husband, Gene Kalish, teaches English and math to immigrants in Hudson N.Y.

Before this latest decision, she went back to school again, for a master's degree in public health and tropical medicine at Tulane University. After seeing the stunning poverty and need for medical professionals in Africa, she admits she is drawn there again and again.

"I think certain people get a comfort level being in other countries, and for other people, it's very uncomfortable," said Hutchinson. "When I was in the Peace Corps, there were people who loved [living and being in a foreign country] and people who hated it. There were people who stayed in a country for a day and then they were gone. They couldn't deal with it.

"But for me, it's interesting. You see new things all the time, you learn new things all the time. There's so much to take in."

Her husband, it should be noted, has never been to Africa. But, said Anne, he and the rest of her family are very supportive and always have been.

Three-month assignment

This assignment, which is slated to last three months, is something different from previous assignments for Hutchinson. She is working for a diverse partnership under the World Health Organization umbrella that has pledged to eradicate polio from the world.

In Hutchinson's case, she is being paid by the Centers for Disease Control. She is one member of a STOP team composed of 35 people who will be based in Ethiopia. The STOP acronym stands for Stop Transmission of Polio.

As part of the team, Hutchinson will participate in immunization activities, case follow-up and surveillance of hospitals and local health-care facilities for polio victims.

The United Nations began its efforts to eradicate polio in 1988. The U.N. and a host of other countries and organizations, including Rotary International, WHO and the CDC, had hoped to eliminate polio by 2000. The goal now is to do so by the end of this year.

But the latest political situation has made this difficult. Muslim leaders in Africa who support the previous regimes in Iraq or Afghanistan are attempting to discourage Africans from being immunized because the program is being sponsored in part by the United States, according to the WHO Web site.

An Associated Press report last week said that Muslim leaders were telling Nigerians that the immunization vaccine contained the HIV virus or antifertility drugs, which hindered the immunization program.

Security training

Hutchinson conceded that returning to Africa this time around will be a different experience. For the first time, as part of her orientation, she will have security training.

"It used to be you felt safer as an American working in these countries," she said. "In some ways, I'm less safe now. But I've never felt my life was in danger before. I don't know how this will be.

"Part of this is that I'm going in affiliated with much more high-profile organizations," she said. "So, yeah, it is different. On the other hand, Ethiopia is considered pretty safe. The people there understand that visitors from other countries spend money. They're pretty tourist-friendly."

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Story Source: Berkshire Eagle

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS- Ghana; COS - Ethiopia; Nursing



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