Email and text messages delivered the news of Moammar Gadhafi’s capture and death to Elizabeth McLellan.

“I do feel relief,” McLellan said Thursday. “I think it’s a step in the right direction for the Libyan people. There was no way they were going to allow Gadhafi to be in power again. They want to be free.”

McLellan is connected to Libya through her work as a nurse and the founder of Scarborough-based Partners for World Health. The organization delivered medical supplies and provided instruction at hospitals in the coastal Libyan city of Benghazi in July.

Nine nurses, eight of whom were from Maine, taught medical students in Libya basic nursing skills. The nurses who had been working in the hospitals were expatriates from countries like the Philippines and Cambodia and fled when Libya’s civil war broke out.

The seed for the Libya trip was planted in the spring, when a Libyan-American woman in Massachusetts approached McLellan. McLellan eventually got connected to Jamal Tarhuni, a leader of the Libyan Community Association of Oregon. The two groups organized the visit with Hope Relief International and Medical Relief International.

Partners for World Health is continuing with its plans for a second trip to Libya next month.

The fighting may continue, and Libyans continue to have health care needs unrelated to the revolution, McLellan said.

“It’s not just the freedom fighters,” she said. “What about the women and children that get sick and the people who need an operation for appendicitis?”

Patients who have suffered traumatic injuries will need qualified surgeons to patch them up and qualified nurses to provide follow-up care, McLellan said. She said she could take three doctors on the upcoming trip and is looking for general, vascular and trauma surgeons and emergency physicians.

The trip would begin around Nov. 3, McLellan said. The group would go to Benghazi or Tripoli, depending on where the need is greatest. The plan would be to return by Nov. 20.

McLellan said her group is committed to Libya for the long term. “We made a really big connection,” she said.

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at: [email protected]


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