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Loretta Burgei returns from Haiti: Shares journey during National Volunteer Month

(LIMA; April 20, 2017) April is National Volunteer Month. Loretta Burgei, RN at Mercy Health - St. Rita’s Health Partners, is an inspiration and showcases what being a volunteer truly means. April 20 marks one month of her return from Côtes-de-Fer, Haiti, where she and seven other Mercy Health volunteers helped open the Bishop Joseph M. Sullivan Center for Health.

In 2013, Mercy Health committed a $2 million challenge grant to build Bishop Joseph M. Sullivan Center for Health in Côtes-de-Fer. The center will provide quality primary, emergency and specialty healthcare services to more than 50,000 area residents.

Burgei and the seven other Mercy Health volunteers worked side-by-side with members of the Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB) as they prepared to welcome the first patients to the center.

Côtes-de-Fer is a remote village where livestock is more common on the roads than cars. There is a lack of nutritious food and safe water, and the life expectancy in Haiti is 62. When Loretta and team arrived, the group of Mercy Health providers helped treat more than 100 patients daily who visited the new center.

“As a nurse and as a volunteer, my main priority is to help people. I serve those in my community, but I also extend my care to those who don’t have the resources that we have here locally,” Burgei said. “When in Haiti, some of the patients I cared for would travel for hours by foot for care. This is the only means of transportation they had.”

Prior to the construction of the Bishop Joseph M. Sullivan Center for Health, the nearest hospital was 90 miles and a three-hour journey away. That meant for many, access to healthcare was impossible.

“Having the opportunity to journey to Haiti, help open the center and provide care to those who are poor and underserved has been life-changing. This is my sixth journey there and would do it again in a heartbeat. I am so fortunate to work for an organization where volunteering and helping people is important,” Burgei said. “At the end of the day, seeing that I made a difference in someone’s life is what it’s all about – to me, that is the spirit of volunteering.”

About St. Rita’s Health Partners
Since 1918, St. Rita’s Health Partners has been providing quality healthcare to the people of Lima and west central Ohio. More people prefer St. Rita's for medical care than any other hospital in the 10-county region we serve. Our comprehensive high-quality medical services include The Henry & Beverly Hawk Vascular & Heart Center at St. Rita's, St. Rita's Orthopaedic Care Center, trauma and emergency, cancer treatment, women's health, mother/baby, pediatrics, sports medicine and rehabilitation, behavioral health services, homecare and hospice.

As a member of Mercy Health, the largest health system in Ohio and one of the largest health systems in the United States, it is our Mission to extend the healing ministry of Jesus by improving the health of our communities. In 2014, St. Rita’s Health Partners invested $42 million in community benefit into the communities where we provide care, most of it targeted to people who are poor and under-served. Together with more than 3,000 employees, physicians and volunteers, we are fulfilling our promise, providing area residents with outstanding health and wellness services and improving the health of the communities we serve. Please visit for more information or connect with St. Rita’s Medical Center on Facebook.