By Sanpha Sesay
The Texas Chief
Sierra Leoneans are continuing highly gratified for having some ambitious citizens among them in the United States who are meeting their expectations and their wellbeing of Diaspora immigrant’s goals. May 3rd was another significant date for one of our sisters, Waltona Cummings, who has reached a milestone in the healthcare system. She won series of awards and was greatly honored in an extraordinary award ceremony at the Morton Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas.
Waltona Cummings is the first Sierra Leonean to be recognized and honored this year, as one of the most skilled and professional nurses at the Parkland Health and Hospital system in Texas. It was an honor to Ms. Cummings to be named among the Parkland’s 100 distinguished nurses in a hospital that have gotten more than 80 years of providing high quality, safe patient care in Texas.
She continued to manifest her high esteem by being honored again on May 20, when the Board of Directors of the Parkland Health & Hospital System (PHHS) presented a resolution to her and few others for their commitment and passionate in the healthcare system. The awards nomination committee in the hospital system gave an account of her accomplishments after recalling her international experience.
This Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) was born and raised in Sierra Leone, educated as a Nurse and Midwife in England, where she practiced for two years before moving to Dallas. She has practiced as a Registered Nurse (RN) for 27 years total at the PHHS; 24 of those as a Certified Nurse-Midwife. She has a calling to care for the medically underserved, both locally and globally. She is an alumnus of the Annie Walsh Memorial School and the Methodist Girls’ High School, in Freetown. She is the Co-Chair of the Krio Descendants Union ( KDU) Global Health Committee of the diaspora
According to publication, Ms. Cummings has worked tirelessly to provide direct patient care in both the inpatient and outpatient setting, focusing on women’s health, pregnancy and promoting normal labor and delivery. She has been an inspiration, role model, and educator of many up and coming women’s health care providers. She has participated in a pilot program that brings high school students into the hospital for observation experience as a way to encourage them to pursue health care as a career, specifically promoting nursing and midwifery as a viable career with unlimited opportunity for advancement and incredible personal job satisfaction. Her work in various community clinics inspired her to be a mentor for young women.
Ms. Cummings has been a guest lecturer at several local high schools and churches to educate young people about the nursing profession and nurse-midwifery. She has also led classes for pregnant teens, teaching the teen moms how to have a healthy pregnancy and delivery, and empowers them to be excellent caregivers for their infants and families. For years she has taught emergency childbirth classes to Emergency Rooms (ER) nurses, labor and delivery nurses, and nurses in the critical care unit who care for pregnant women in the ICU, she precepts students of all kinds in labor and delivery, including medical, midwifery, nursing, paramedic, and physician residents.
Waltona has always felt a calling for Global Health Care and believes, “every health professional has a role to play in global health”.
In 2000, as the ten year rebel war was ending in Sierra Leone, she went on her first mission trip with a Christian organization to provide spiritual care for in the post-war era. This trip reaffirmed her calling to continue mission work for the people of her native Sierra Leone. She and two others founded a non-profit organization whose primary purpose is to return to Sierra Leone and other nations promoting global health awareness, and to provide opportunity for others to serve internationally in a short term capacity.
Waltona returned to Sierra Leone in 2002 on her first medical mission trip to provide physical, spiritual, and emotional care to those effected by the war. She ministered not only to people affected by horrific post-war fallout, but began to focus on caring for the local care providers. She has educated countless health care providers about better ways to care for the women of the region. She recognizes that western health care influence is invaluable to help low income, low resource countries.
Waltona has also served in Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Jamaica, Nigeria, and Malawi. She has attended several programs on International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), and has marched with other midwives in Scotland, South Africa and Prague proudly carrying a banner representing her hospital and midwifery. She is worthy to be among the Great 100. Her life is best devoted to the cause of life, enabling technology to enhance the quality of human life, not only in the United States, but globally.
In her long time service in the healthcare system, she exemplifies the highest ideals and standards of healthcare service as a professional nurse. The Parkland nurses were selected from among 800 nominations submitted by patients, families, colleagues, teachers and co-workers for the annual award.
In character, many believe that Ms. Cummings is a modest, kind and sympathetic, ever ready to help and encourage, painstaking through and devoted to her assigned tasks. Her reputation for ability and fairness extend far beyond the borders of the Sierra Leone community in the Dallas Fort-Worth area in Texas. Some Sierra Leoneans in the metro also believe she is very passionate about health and wellness of everyone not only in the United States, the world over.
Parkland Memorial Hospital is the primary teaching institution of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School (UT South Western Medical) and is often rated among the best hospitals in the United States. It is best known as the hospital where one of the great leaders of the United States, John F. Kennedy was pronounced dead after an assignation plot by his assassin in Dallas downtown (research). It was in this great hospital that Waltona Cummings been recognized and awarded as one of the great nurses who have contributed to the quality of lives of people in Texas.