Sharp Chula Vista nurse Courtney Kutach is no stranger to serving others. After joining the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps as a reservist in 2017, Kutach has been able to help others while expanding her clinical knowledge. The lessons she’s learned as a reservist have helped her in her career as an intensive care unit (ICU) nurse at Sharp.
“The Navy reserves has taught me to be resourceful as a caregiver. In the military, conditions are not always ideal for giving medical care, but you have to make the most out of the resources you have at the time,” says Kutach.
So when she heard about another way she could use her nursing skills and serve others, she was eager to learn more. She found out that her cousin’s nursing unit at Sharp Memorial Hospital donated supplies to the local nonprofit Ssubi is Hope. To date, Ssubi has collected more than 500 tons of discarded, but safe and usable, supplies from Sharp HealthCare facilities and distributed them to clinics around the world.
When Kutach learned about Ssubi’s mission, she was inspired and wanted to help her own unit get involved. “I had often thought about how much waste a hospital generates and it was so amazing to see someone using it in a productive way to help people around the world,” says Kutach.
She contacted Ssubi founder Laura Luxemburg and asked her to present the project to her managers. After Luxemburg came to speak about her organization’s impact, Kutach’s unit began donating their own discarded supplies to Ssubi.
Inspired to do more
Kutach was so inspired by the organization and its work, she wanted to get even more involved. She approached Luxemburg about volunteer positions and was soon presented with the opportunity to travel to a small hospital in Uganda to provide medical care.
“I have always felt it would be humbling to travel and see what medical care delivery is like in other countries. So when the opportunity to travel to Uganda presented itself, I jumped on it,” says Kutach. Once she arrived in Uganda, Kutach quickly got in the swing of things at a local hospital, Bishop Asili.
After being in the country for less than 12 hours, she woke up to news that a C-section was being performed. She quickly threw on scrubs and headed to the operating room to assist. She also had the opportunity to put together an interactive class for the other nurses, teaching basic nursing skills, vital sign monitoring, needle safety and CPR.
Walking around the hospital, Kutach was able to see the supplies from Sharp families in action. “I recognized many of the supplies, potentially waste from my very own unit in the ICU. It is amazing to think of the journey these boxes took, from my own hospital, Sharp Chula Vista, across the world to Bishop Asili in Uganda,” she says.
After almost two weeks in Uganda, Kutach returned to San Diego and brought some great memories and important lessons back with her.
“I learned that happiness is a choice, and that it doesn't take material possessions, wealth or even health to be happy,” says Kutach. “I also learned that it is a privilege to be able to work in the profession I do. All the hospital staff I worked with were proud of their profession and came to work every day grateful for the opportunity to help others.”