May 17 2013
It is with great pleasure that today we announce Global Health Service Corps (GHSC) is changing its name to Seed Global Health. As many of you know, we have been considering a name change over this past year to better capture the full scope and mission of our work and to better distinguish our cause. We believe this new name better represents our efforts to cultivate stronger, sustainable health systems through training new generations of physicians and nurses in countries where they are needed most.
Our name is changing, but not our innovative public-private partnership with the Peace Corps and the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) - the Global Health Service Partnership (GHSP). Seed Global Health's role in the partnership is to provide the expertise in medical and nursing education as well as knowledge of clinical education in resource limited countries.
We are extremely proud to be sending our first class of GHSP volunteers -33 doctors and nurses - to serve as faculty in medical and nursing schools in Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda this July. They are truly an impressive group of nurse practitioners, midwives, pediatricians, OB/GYN's, psychiatrists, anesthesiologists, family and internal medicine doctors who will work with faculty in their host countries to develop curriculum and help train a new generation of doctors and nurses. We will be sharing some of their stories with a bigger announcement in July.
Also today, the Global Health Service Partnership begins accepting applications for 2014 volunteers. We're committed to recruiting the best qualified-candidates for the job. And for those who may have financial constraints to service, Seed Global Health raises and disburses loan repayment and other support to those chosen to serve abroad.
We hope you will share this information with individuals you think might be a good fit for the program. For more information on applicant requirements, visit Seed Global Health.
You can like us on facebook and follow us on twitter to spread the word, too.
facebook link to Seed Global Health or twitter Seed_Global.
We are humbled and excited that just over a year ago we were announcing our collaboration, and just 2 months from now we will have volunteers on the ground and working to build a pipeline of medical professionals in the countries that most need them.
Thank you for your continued support!
Vanessa Kerry, MD MSc
CEO, Seed Global Health
Join the Seed Global Health mailing list to follow our progress.
Jan 13 2013
Frist Global Health Leader
Reporting from Les Cayes, Haiti
I can’t believe my time here in Haiti is over—but it is. I’m
writing this from my guesthouse in Port-au-Prince, in preparation for
my flight home tomorrow.
I would like to thank Senator Frist for forming the Frist Global
Health Leadership Program, and for allowing me to have come to Haiti
to work at HIC. I’d also like to thank the many people at Vanderbilt,
Dartmouth, and HIC who helped me make the needed connections and
organize the details of my trip. Last but not least, I’d like to give
a special shout-out to my boyfriend, for supporting and encouraging me
to leave him—and the U.S.—for three months and go work in Haiti.
Although there were certainly nights that were incredibly difficult,
there were many more that were amazing, and I am so very thankful for
having been able to work at HIC. I was able to learn from so many
experienced, kind, patient doctors and (mainly) nurses. They opened
their hospital and the maternity ward to me, and were willing to teach
me and make me an infinitely better midwife. I know that my time at
HIC will forever impact how I care for my patients, and how I look
upon all of the resources available to my moms and babies back in the
U.S. Additionally, working here has further solidified my desire to
work internationally, and has given me a clearer idea of what that
life will be like.
I sincerely hope that if Senator Frist had come to visit HIC that the
staff and the patients I interacted with would have said I was worthy
of being a Frist Leader.
This last picture is of me and an auxiliary nurse (kind of like an
LPN) named Mrs. Lorcey. Mrs. Lorcey works most nights, and so I worked
with her more than any other provider during my time at HIC. I was
always pleased when I'd arrive to work and see Mrs. Lorcey there
because we worked well together and respected each others skills as
providers. Although at first Mrs. Lorcey didn't trust me--as she
shouldn't have--as I slowly proved myself and my skills she let me do
more and more on my own, and helped guide me through interventions
that I'd never done/seen before. By the end of my time at HIC I know
that she believed in my abilities, and let me work as independently as
I wanted. I worked with Mrs. Lorcey on my last night at the maternity
and in the morning when it was time to leave she gave me a big hug--
something I didn't see that often in Haiti--and told me she'd miss me.
I will certainly miss her, her smile and her quiet, calm
encouragement when I was stressed or unsure of what I was doing.
Jan 05 2013
Frist Global Health Leader
Reporting from Les Cayes, Haiti
Happy New Year!
Apart from working at the maternity this week—and getting to celebrate the arrival of 2013 with laboring women and their new babies—I’ve been busy completing the list of HIV+ women who have been lost to follow-up. From March of 2009 until November of 2012 there were 240 women who started receiving HIV care at HIC, but now no longer are doing so. I really hope that the social worker and the community health workers will make use of this list and that some of them will be found and restarted with their HIV care. I am however, not incredibly optimistic that many women will be located. The social worker and community health workers are already very busy and to try to track down 240 women—with little more than their names, dates of birth, and possible addresses—seems very ambitious. But I feel that if even one or two women are found and are restarted in care that my work on the list was worth it.
Along with the lost to follow-up list I’ve also been working on an “opposite” list—collecting information about those women who are still receiving HIV care at HIC. The hope is that with both lists, providers at HIC will have a better sense of whether or not there are differences between those women who are lost to follow-up (LTF) and those who are active. Maybe it’s the timing of enrollment in the HIV program, or whether or not a woman gives birth at home or in the hospital, or her age that is a significant factor in whether or not she stays in care. With that information the providers at HIC may be able to modify certain aspects of their program (i.e. enrolling women earlier if that was shown to make a difference) or focus on certain “as risk” women (i.e. if older age is show to have increased LFT risk, providing more education/support to those in that age range), thus—hopefully—decreasing the programs LTF rate and ensuring more women (and their babies) receive the important HIV medication and care.
This week I also went into the capital and had the pleasure of meeting a woman who is running GHESKIO’s Nurse Practitioner program. (GHESKIO stands for the Haitian Group for the Study of Kaposi's Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections, and was the first institution in the world dedicated to the fight against HIV/AIDS. It has provided continuous free medical care in Haiti since 1982) I talked to her about what can be done to better define the role of an NP in Haiti—to distinguish NPs from the nurses and doctors, and to make sure that the doctors don’t worry about NPs “taking their jobs”. I also got to meet three women who have already graduated from GHESKIO’s NP program who are working as NPs at GHESKIO. All of the women that I met were amazing. They were all very motivated and open to improving the NP program and striving to provide the best care they possibly can for their patients.
I returned to Samaria with a Clinical Officer, Waweru, in tow to staff Samaria for the week in Susan’s absence. Susan has an obligation to attend training and program review for her participation in Tunza the family planning program supported in part by USAID. If Susan is not able to find a substitute during her absence, then she must close her clinic. In this case it would have been for 4 ½ days, difficult on the patients and Susan’s income. Even so, engaging a substitute adds costs to clinic expenditures, that may or may not be recouped from leaving the clinic open. This underscores the difficulty that private clinic nurses have in taking time away from their practice if they are the sole practitioner. It is difficult to engage in continuing education, a must for any clinical practitioner, if the economics and finding a trusted substitute are onerous.
So off Susan went Monday afternoon to a suburb of Nairobi for her meeting. And then the rains began! Waweru and I were busy with patients until it was time for him to head home to Nyeri. I realized that this relative “city boy” came to Samaria without gum boots or an umbrella. He trudged out in the rain in his dress shoes for what turned out to be a 4 hour commute back to Nyeri. This trip in dry weather is about an hour. Happily Waweru showed up the next day despite the rain and the convoluted travel requirements to avoid impassable roads.
Waweru and I established a good rhythm in seeing patients and had time to share reflections about our respective training and commonalities and differences, which I will address another time. It is still raining!
Eight am the next morning I am called by Waweru that due to a family emergency he would have to go to his family home in Nakuru. He was trying to find me a substitute but to no avail. Hmmm. Given my knowledge of Kikuyu, it was going to be a real challenge alone in the clinic. Susan made some noises about coming home but in the end, it was me with the frequent translating services of her sister Nancy for those patients who remained perplexed by my words. There is nothing like being thrown into the deep end to bring you up to speed. Oh yes it is still raining, so realistically Susan would be hard pressed to make it home.
Fortunately no real emergencies arrived at the clinic. Patients were gracious and patient with my attempts at Kikuyu and communicating with them. Others were forced to use their English skills that otherwise might not have had Susan been there. Oh yes, it is still raining- I introduced the term “raining cats and dogs” to the local colloquium that week. It is very impressive rain.The first two days alone were busy despite the rain and while I tried to establish a rhythm of seeing patients, assessing for health complaints, being the pharmacist to fill the medications I prescribed, collecting payments, and entering patient visit information in the various registers, as required by the Ministry of Health.
The MOH required registers
The “Well Child Visit” crib is a good perch after a long day.
I did use the early morning re-reviewing the MOH guidelines for managing childhood illnesses for under 5 years and various reference books on treating worms, amoebas, malaria, and typhoid. I was very glad that I also brought my Sanford Guide to Antimicrobial Therapy. During nursing school I did not fully appreciate the wealth of knowledge this guide supplied, despite its impossibly small 4 point character font! My roommate during the summer also recommended a midwife’s pocket guide that proves to be illuminating for this family nurse practitioner.
Susan returned home Friday night after an adventurous travel home that required hitching a ride with an ambulance on the main road which in fact got stuck and required 13 young men to push it out, after Susan promised to pay them each 50shillings the next day.
I was asked by one of my male blog readers what do the men. Well, in this area many young men wait along dirt roads waiting for vehicles to get stuck. Once stuck the men negotiate a fee, usually 50 shillings, and then push the vehicles out of the mud and muck. Kenya’s unemployment is estimated at 40% (of 39M) of which a large percentage is “youth”, resulting in many idle young men. As you may recall, I was told by more than one man that the construction work on the dirt road that was causing all the stuck cars was too back breaking to be worth the 250 shillings a day for men, however apparently not so for women. Pushing vehicles pay more with less effort. Others are using motorcycles to provide taxi service for people and goods in the smaller communities, that has improved some men’s income. I have asked whether there are co-ed groups or men groups engaging in micro-lending projects as an alternative. In this area there is beginning to be interest by men but it is a challenge I am told to build trust among the male participants. I see lots of entrepreneurial opportunities for men and women, however, there perhaps a lack of mentoring by successful men or men in leadership roles to pursue some of those opportunities.
Back to Susan’s journey: Susan was dropped off by the ambulance to walk about a mile up a hill across farms and along the so called road to Samaria without gum boots. She made it by 10:30 PM. And yes, it is still raining. In fact, I was to return to Mariine Maternity Home and Josephine on Sunday the 3rd and was delayed until Wednesday because of the rain. I did manage to take advantage of a break in clouds on Saturday and Susan volunteered to add a little color to my hair.
Frist Global Health Leader
Reporting from Les Cayes, Haiti
As I mentioned in my last post I’ve struggled with practicing as I’ve been taught and believe is best while also trying to respect how my Haitian counterparts were taught and what they believe is best practice.
There was a woman who came in in labor this week and when the doctor examined her he said that she would need an episiotomy (cutting the perineum to make the vaginal opening bigger) in order to give birth (this was long before the baby was even close to being at the perineum when something like that could really be evaluated). I had labored for most of the evening with this woman and thought of her as “my patient”, and was more than a bit frustrated at the prospects of her having an episiotomy. I told the nurses I was working with that I didn’t think she needed an episiotomy—and explained that in the U.S. the literature shows repairing lacerations is better than repairing episiotomies—and that if I caught her baby I wasn’t going to perform one. Needless to say, I was not allowed to catch the baby and she got an episiotomy (and actually had quite severe post-partum bleeding, I believe in part as a result of her episiotomy).
I know that the nurses where just doing what the doctor ordered them to do (as is appropriate), and that they believed that performing an episiotomy was best practice, but it was still very hard for me to watch. I however, see no easy way to reconcile our differences in practice. Although I’ve tried to talk to the nurses about why we in the U.S. don’t perform episiotomies (and various other practices), at least in this type of society behavior change needs to come from the top (i.e. the OB/GYN chief) and not the bottom (i.e. night nurses). And although I feel very strongly about the issue I’m reticent to go to the head of the OB/GYN department and try to lobby for such a change. Part of that that is me being scared and non-confrontational, but it’s also hard given that this is what is believed to be best practice and still taught in the medical/nursing schools, and I’m “just” a visiting foreign new midwife lucky enough to have been allowed to work at HIC for these 2.5 months. So, I’ve done nothing—except never perform an episiotomy and have had many moms with no lacerations (when I was told an episiotomy would be needed) or well repaired ones. I know that’s not enough and that I’m not serving my patients as best I can, but it’s all I feel comfortable with doing at this point.
Frist Global Health Leader
Reporting from Les Cayes, Haiti
As the providers at HIC (i.e. the nurses) have become more comfortable with me and my abilities I’ve slowly begun to help teach the nursing students who are present during my shifts. This week I got to help a couple of the students do deliveries, which were rewarding experiences, though ones I’m not (yet) totally comfortable with. In many ways I still feel like a student myself—I graduated from nursing school in May 2012 and this is my first job practicing as a “real” (as opposed to “student”) midwife—and so it’s a bit odd for me to already be put in a teaching role. That said, I really do enjoy guiding the students and helping them grow more confident with and skilled in catching babies.
Nursing students in uniform before their graduation
One of the hardest things about trying to teach here is that there are some birthing practices that are standard in Haiti that aren’t viewed as best practice in the U.S./developed world (i.e. they always clamp and cut the cord immediately, in the U.S. it’s recommended to typically wait at least 2 min, they perform perineal massage while pushing, in the U.S. that’s not recommended, they perform episiotomies very frequently, most midwives in the U.S. perform them very rarely). So although I may be coaching a student through a delivery, advising her using recommendations from the U.S., often times one of the nurses will “correct” the student and tell her to do something very different than what I’ve just said. So that is sometimes frustrating for both the student and me. I’ve now started saying, “in the U.S. we do this” and trying to explain why I recommend doing something “my” way versus the “Haitian” way. And after hearing my explanations and watching me practice, some of the providers/students are slowly adopting at least the delayed cord clamping, which I’m happy about.
This week I was doing the admitting paperwork on a woman who came in in labor. I know how to ask some basic questions in Creole (How old are you? What’s your name? How many babies do you have? etc) and so went through those with her. For the more “complicated” question (Where were you born?) I switched to French, hoping she knew how to speak it—which she did. Her reply—Jamaica—surprised me, and prompted for me to ask her if she spoke English—which she did also. So throughout my night laboring with this woman we had conversations in a mix of Creole, French, and English, which made me smile. I know for Haitians and most people around the world speaking multiple languages is nothing exciting—and I mélange French and Creole normally with all my patients—but having that English thrown in (with her great accent to boot) was a treat.
So I have moved temporarily for the week to the Mariine Maternity Nursing Home outside of Nyeri to work with Josephine Gikunja. I will go back to Samaria next week while Susan attends a training workshop. Susan has enlisted the services of a Medical Officer (Physicians’ Assistant) to work with me and help with translation.
Josephine started Mariine clinic in 1963 and just celebrated her 77th birthday. Marrine means swamp because the location was called a swamp. For all my midwife colleagues, this clinic is like “The Farm” in longevity and success in maternal and infant care. Josephine, like Susan, is a midwife and a family nurse practitioner. As far as I can tell, Mariine clinic never closes. If there is a laboring or postpartum mother, Josephine sleeps on the ward.
I am happy to report that a baby was delivered at the very last minute of Thanksgiving Day. No fancy scrubs at Mariine for a delivery. We donned plastic rain ponchos with hoods and long plastic aprons for the event. After a short and uneventful labor, this Gravida 1 mother delivered a baby that tipped the scales at half of what I weighed at birth, small but none the worse for wear. I was sure that with the labor we were in it for the long-haul. I couldn’t see much progress in getting the head out, but Josephine knew almost to the minute of when the baby was coming out. Although I was there for observation and moral support, I was put in charge of Oxytocin and Vitamin K injections and cleaning and swaddling the newborn. I was glad I paid attention to my day in Delivery at Vanderbilt hospital. I will spare the details of the delivery, but you midwives would have been impressed – good looking placenta.
It was an unusually quiet week at Mariine for patients and deliveries. Patients come for all parts to see Josephine with much the same ailments I saw at Samaria. Josephine lives on the compound of the clinic. I now have electricity and plumbing “amenities”, which surprisingly I did not miss much at Samaria except when I needed to charge my computer or write at night. Josephine’s compound is home to two rather grand avocado trees which I am offered fruit from most morning noon and night. It is one of my favorites. The compound is about a kilometer from the main road and only about 10 minutes by car from Nyeri center. I took a walk to the “shopping mall” about a mile away in the other direction with Josephine’s son, Peter to get the lay of the land. I created quite a stir, but only one boy was brave enough to come up to shake my hand. I continue to startle people with my few words of Kikuyu. Hardly a day goes by when a school age kid is reduced to fits of giggles when I talk to them, and that is when I speak English.
The view up to the clinic from Josephine’s home
I return to Susan’s on the 26th but return to Mariine on December 2nd for a few weeks. There is a professional nursing society meeting for private clinic nurses on the 7th and Josephine will take me to meet and talk with other nurses. There is supposed to be a nurses’ strike starting December 3rd, but it is not clear if the private nurses are being asked to participate. Regardless, Josephine will be open to do deliveries.
Frist Global Health Leader
Reporting from Les Cayes, Haiti
December 13, 2012
First off, an update on the two abandoned babies: they were not there when I went to work after my three days off. I was told that the girl (who was very cute and term) had been adopted, while the boy (who was a premi, but seemed very healthy—though of course small—to me) had died.
Working at HIC has certainly taught me a great many things, none more so than how to multi-task. I’ve gotten used to—though certainly haven’t mastered—watching the perineum’s of two women who are pushing wondering who will give birth first and if I’ll have adequate time to change gloves to catch the second ones baby, to do the admission paperwork while making sure that a resuscitated baby is still breathing appropriately, and to triage patients while checking frequently for the presence of the baby’s head of a woman squatting and pushing on the floor. I’m forever impressed at what the nursing staff (as they are the main staff that run the maternity) do every day. As I say I’ve gotten used to this type of work environment, but it still stresses me out and makes me anxious. They however, are so used to it and so good at balancing multiple patients at once, that I don’t think they even notice it at this point. I think it’ll be a bit of a transition to go back to the U.S. and for each patient to have her own room (instead of an open room with three tables) and to have to certainly still have to multitask, but in a very different way.
This week I had the pleasure of visiting the Maison de Naissance (MN), a birthing type center about 30 minutes from Cayes. MN is located in a tiny town pretty far off the main road and provides much needed services to the women in the area (many of whom would never come all the way to Cayes to give birth and so would just give birth alone, or with a traditional birth attendant). MN had 7 post-partum beds, a two-bed birthing room, provides prenatal consultation serves, and birth control services (among other services). It was really nice to be able to visit MN and see a different type of birthing environment. Because MN is smaller than HIC, it was much calmer than the maternity ward I’m now used to—though I was told I visited on a very calm day. It was wonderful to see what good care the midwives were able to offer the laboring women and those who came for prenatal consultations. High quality clinics like MN are invaluable—in my opinion—to Haiti as they provide skilled birth attendants and health care services to women in rural areas who wouldn’t typically make the journey to the nearest hospital, but nonetheless need/deserve such healthcare.
Frist Global Health Leader
Reporting from Les Cayes, Haiti
My last three nights at the maternity were good, but really, really busy. I caught 13 babies (in 3 nights)—which even for our relatively high volume maternity is a good number of babies (since I wasn’t the only provider catching babies). Most of the deliveries were beautiful normal births, which was really nice.
The worst part of having busy nights is that inevitably women have to sleep on the floors. It’s always so sad for me to catch a baby, and get the mom and baby all cleaned off and dressed, and then have to tell them to try and find a spot on the floor to sleep. But, that’s how it goes when you have 20 beds in the maternity ward and more than 20 patients (and no overflow beds). Luckily, the post-partum women don’t have to stay in the maternity for that long (I try to make them stay for at least 6 hours so I can monitor their bleeding, but that doesn’t often happen), so at least they don’t have spend days on the floor.
The one unexpected addition to my night shifts was two adorable, abandoned babies. One is a term girl, the other a pre-term, but healthy boy. Both had been delivered at the maternity and for whatever reason their mom’s had decided not to keep them. When I asked the nurses what was going to happen to the babies no one seemed to have a very clear idea (we evidently don’t have an orphanage in town). So the babies just hung out in our non-functioning baby warmer in the delivery room. Someone had gone and bought formula—and eventually diapers—for the babies, so in between seeing patients/catching babies I’d feed/burp/hold/change the babies as needed. Evidently HIC is the hospital in town where people come to abandon their babies, and Haitians looking to adopt know to come to HIC to try and get a baby (though I’m told adoption by Haitians is very rare, so I don’t think that happens very often). I hope that when I go back to work tomorrow the babies aren’t still there, though I won’t be surprise if they are.
I had the recent fortune to experience the hospitality of one of Susan’s close friends who lives down the “road” from Samaria clinic. Esther is a farmer and has about 3 acres of land of which she farms about 2 ½ acres. She started off as a secondary school teacher but returned to her family roots of farming. She is married to a secondary teacher and has three children.
Esther belongs to a micro finance group of woman farmers who work together to grow and sell snow peas, French beans, flowers, corn, carrots, spinach , garlic, onions, potatoes and kale. Although snow peas are not a vegetable consumed in Kenya, these women grow snow peas for export to Asian and European markets. The group used their resources to have their soil analyzed for optimum growing and have established some relationships with wholesalers for their produce and flowers. They also are working to provide direct sourcing for Nairobi supermarkets and hotels. As a result of their efforts, they have seen up to a four times greater yield and moving toward more control of pricing and understanding market needs.
Esther and I had an interesting discussion about prospects for the children and young adults in the area around Samaria and Ndathi. I understand that the previous generation was squatters on the land and in 1992 or there about the government issued each family a half acre of land. Although that land may sustain the immediate family’s needs, a ½ acre cannot be divided among the children and their families in any meaningful way. Many of the young adults do not have role models for education beyond the 8th grade, and this is reflected in their limited education level and aspirations. Ester agreed that the priority for this community needs to be education, so that the children have opportunities here and elsewhere. I try and ask the teenagers about their plans after secondary school and many have aspirations, but paying school fees to complete secondary school is a huge challenge for most of the children’s families.
Susan’s sister Nancy oversees a small library that was set up on the compound with the backing of a young friend of Susan. The Kubaru Library is open most afternoons after school and during school breaks also in the morning.
Nancy in the library with a student who is studying for end of term tests.
I spoke to a couple of kids who come after school to read and study. They would like to have access to more books that support their curricula and some novels about other places. School is now out for the term and even so there are a passel of students who come to this library. Sometimes they have to set up benches outside as 30 kids can be there at any one time. It is heartening to see how many kids want to have access to more and will take pleasure in what we would consider limited.
I am struck with how much the women in this community look for ways to support their families. You can see it in the number of micro lending groups in the area and women participation in road projects. Susan’s daughter Njeri manages Kihiga Kirakana Foundatioon Company Ltd. (Burning Bush micro lending company)that has about 25+ groups of women (15-30 in a group) participating in the merry-go-round lending for projects that each group identifies. These women meet weekly to make payments to the loan and discuss opportunities and challenges of meeting the loan payments. The loan repayment among these groups is 99%+. The group meetings also is an opportunity to promote health education, children’s education, and family planning, as well as discuss other community issues.
Additionally, the women of the nearby communities are working on the road development, sadly not the road to Samaria! Instead of road machinery to do the work, the contractor is using local people. Although this produces income for some, it is felt by the men of the community it is too little to make it worth the backbreaking work, resulting in 90% of the workers being women. Hmmmmm.
Waiting for the screening.
Things at the clinic perk along. We had cervical screening day with free IUD insertion and contraceptive implants. Susan is part of a family planning network called Tunza and one of their nurses came to help us for the day. It was a busy day. I did the VIA/VILI screenings and Susan did IUD insertions and Joyce the implants. Women of all ages came and were eager to take advantage of the 60 cent screening and free IUDs and implant services. You may recall from my last entry that VIA/VILI screening is done to determine if PAP smears need to be. The VIA/VILI screening with white vinegar and Lugol’s iodine are used to identify any cervical epithelial changes. By the way, Zesta vinegar is the vinegar of choice! We saw a lot of cervicitis and unfortunately several abnormal findings that required referrals. For many women this was the first or one of a few screenings that these women had ever had.