Healthcare & History in the Heartland

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Recently, Heart to Heart traveled to the edge of the Great Plains with the University of Kansas Medical Center to operate a health fair during the annual Emancipation Celebration in the historic town of Nicodemus, Kansas.

The whole town of Nicodemus is one of those quintessential American tales of hardship and hard work, westward expansion, newly-found freedom and finding a place to call one’s own and holding onto it.

Nicodemus was settled as a planned town in 1877, 12 years after the US Civil War during the Reconstruction era, by mostly former slaves from Kentucky and Tennessee.  At its peak the town boasted around 800 townsfolk.  Residents had petitioned for the Union Pacific Railroad to lay tracks trough the town, but the railroad dashed those hopes, bypassed the settlement and its long slow decline began.  However, Nicodemus is a National Historic Site, and is the oldest and only remaining all Black Town west of the Mississippi. A couple of dozen people still reside there.

Every year since it’s founding, the town holds an Emancipation Celebration during the last weekend of July to commemorate the end to slavery, the freedmen and women who founded the town and the town’s heritage.  This is a “coming home” celebration, as many descendents from across the nation come home to visit with friends and relatives while commemorating the rich history of Nicodemus.

It’s a purely small town Americana affair with a parade and talent show, even a pancake breakfast made from wheat grown in nearby fields.


But the celebration isn’t just about history, but the future too. A healthy future. And that’s what brought Heart to Heart International out here to work in partnership with KU-MED.

ayesOWtwSxi7JuMpfrIE4A_thumb_172acDuring last years Celebration’s health fair, 19 medical students and 4 HHI volunteers worked out of our Mobile Medical Unit to conduct laboratory tests, health screenings and physicals for 50 people.

 

Every year Heart to Heart is honored to have been a part of both the past and the present of this rich historic community and to have broadened access to healthcare out on the wide open Plains.


 

Pictures


Our Hero in Healthcare

Each year, a Kansas City-based business publication – Ingram’s Magazine – features outstanding health providers in its Heroes in Healthcare series.  HHI’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rick Randolph made the list for 2016.

DrRR at ETU

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rick Randolph, in blue shirt, extends his elbow to greet Major General Gary Volesky at the Tappita, Liberia Ebola Treatment Unit in January 2016.

 

According to Ingram’s Magazine, their Heroes in Healthcare are exemplary healthcare providers who go above and beyond the call of duty.

Read the nomination and you’ll understand why Dr. Rick was included by Ingram’s in this year’s class:

Heroes-in-HealthcareRGBFeature-620x443As Chief Medical Officer for Heart to Heart International (HHI), Dr. Randolph oversees our Global Health Initiatives as well as the recent launch of our Rural Health Care program in SE Missouri.  But what makes Dr. Randolph truly stand out as a Hero in Healthcare is the path that led him to his current position. 

His experience includes leading disaster response teams in Haiti and the Philippines for HHI as a volunteer, medical exchanges through Rotary International in Kenya and Uganda, providing primary care medicine in Senegal, Haiti, Kenya and Uganda.  He has medical military experience in Senegal, Haiti and Iraq. 

Dr. Randolph deployed to Liberia in the fall of 2015 to volunteer at HHI’s Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU)Upon arriving, Dr. Randolph was named Chief Medical Officer of the ETU and remained in country until July 2016—giving up his medical practice with College Park Family Care as a result.  

His selfless commitment to serving others through healthcare, building resilience, and mentoring others to be their best is why Dr. Randolph is a Hero in Healthcare not just in KC, but all over the world.  He is an exceptional human being and employee and his talents and selflessness are treasured at HHI.

Dr. Randolph will be honored at the Ingram’s 2016 Heroes in Healthcare Awards Breakfast, Thursday March 10, 2016 in Kansas City.

 

2016IngramsFebruarySmall-180x234Read more about Dr. Rick Randolph, his work with HHI, and access the full list of the Heroes in Healthcare in the healthcare special report in the February issue of Ingram’s Magazine.

 

 

 

 

 

HHI Passes $100 Million Mark in Aid Shipped in 2015

HHI reached a significant moment in the third week of November – shipping $100 Million worth of medicine and medical supplies around the world in 2015.

 

For the fourth time in its history, Heart to Heart International has shipped $100 Million worth of aid and supplies to people in need around the world within one calendar year.

Throughout the year, HHI receives donations of medicine, medical aid and materials from corporate supporters and partners that allows us to expand access to healthcare and help people in crisis around the world.  The value and amount of these donations fluctuates each year due to a number of factors.  This calendar year is shaping up to be a big one.  We’ll know once all the numbers are tallied at the end of the year, but it’s looking like it could be a record-setting year for providing aid.

What makes this even more special – HHI moved warehouse operations to a new facility during the winter of 2015, greatly reducing the amount of aid we were able to ship during the months of January and February as the new Operations Hub was put in order.  Meaning, most of the work to reach this big number took place between March and November.

To give an example of just one week at the HHI Operations Hub, here are stats from a week in November:

Shipments: 14
Value of Aid & Supplies: $3,091,851.67
Countries: Six – Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Tanzania, United States, Uzbekistan

This achievement wouldn’t be possible without the combination of HHI staff, volunteers and corporate partners working together to make a true, positive impact and provide medicine and medical aid to those in need in the US and around the world.

 

*Many thanks to our friends at Children International and their communications coordinators who made the featured video

First Images from HHI Advance Team in Nepal

Our Advance Team has reached Nepal and is already at work coordinating our Nepal Earthquake Relief response, preparing the way for our Medical Team which will arrive soon.

Advance Team 1

Because of the earthquake damage, internet communications are sporadic.  But our team was able to send back a few images of what it looks like on the ground in Nepal.

These pics are from the village of Kokona.  Dr. Gary Morsch tells us there were about 20 deaths from the earthquake here.  The village is essentially deserted, with those remaining sleeping outdoors due to the fear of more earthquakes.  There was another aftershock here, which our team felt.

Advance Team 2Passing by this alleyway, our team learned that five people had perished in the collapse of this home.

 

Advance Team 3Dr. Morsch explains the photo above: “Delivering rice to a village where we saw so much destruction.  The man in the Scout uniform is the village leader, and he asked for our medical team to come tomorrow.  That means Sue and me, until the full medical team arrives!”

Our medical team – two doctors, three nurses and a paramedic – are scheduled to arrive Friday in Nepal.

Please support our Nepal Earthquake Relief response.

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Cyclone Pam: Vanuatu Relief Aid

The images tell the tale.  Cyclone Pam, a Category-5 monster, laid waste to so much of Vanuatu – destroying crops and homes, leaving so many in this south Pacific island nation homeless and in need.

cyclone pam damage

Photo courtesy of UNICEF PACIFIC / AFP – Getty Images

 

Heart to Heart International is responding.  An assessment team will soon be on the ground in Vanuatu to coordinate our relief effort.

Look for more updates soon.

In the meantime, please help us with this effort and keep us prepared to help others in times of need by donating today.

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Med Student Volunteer Team to make Ripple Effect

The second winner of the 2014 Ripple Effect Contest has her ‘boarding pass’ and will join three other medical students on a humanitarian service trip to Haiti in the summer 2015.

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Kathleen Iles is presented with a ‘boarding pass’ by Steve Hower of HHI (left in photo), and David Allyn of Welch Allyn, after being named a winner of the Ripple Effect contest.

 

Kathleen Iles, a first-year medical student at SUNY Upstate Medical University, was announced March 17th as one of two winners of the 2014 Ripple Effect Contest, a joint initiative of Heart to Heart International and Welch Allyn designed to inspire medical students to “change the world by giving back to their communities.”

The Ripple Effect Contest encourages medical students to use social media to share how they will create their own “ripple effect” of good in their community or globally.  Entrants were asked to ‘like’ the Ripple Effect program page on Facebook and share a picture with a short essay or a short video showcasing their “ripple effect” — a brief narrative about how they would “change the world” by using their training to help those in greatest need.

Iles, along with three other medical students to win the humanitarian service trip, will work alongside physicians and aid workers in impoverished communities in Haiti this summer. She will join inaugural 2013 Ripple Effect winners Oluwatoni Aluko, from Meharry Medical College, and Meghan Meghpara, from Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine on the trip, as well as the other 2014 winner Matthew Schilling, from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.

 

One ‘Ripple Effect’ Winner Revealed

Heart to Heart International has teamed up with Welch Allyn to encourage medical students to give back to their communities. With the Ripple Effect contest, two more medical students can now make their own ripple effect with a humanitarian service trip to Haiti.

2015 Ripple Effect winner LECOM

Matthew Schilling is presented with a ‘boarding pass’ by David Allyn of Welch Allyn, and Steve Hower of HHI, after being named a winner of the Ripple Effect contest. Photo by erietvnews.com

 

Matthew Schilling, a first-year medical student at the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, was announced as one of two winners of the 2014 Ripple Effect Contest, a joint initiative of Heart to Heart International and Welch Allyn designed to inspire medical students to “change the world by giving back to their communities.”

This summer, Schilling and a yet-to-be-revealed student, along with student winners from the 2013 Ripple Effect contest will work alongside Heart to Heart medical teams in Haiti.

The Ripple Effect Contest encourages medical students to use social media to share how they will create their own “ripple effect” of good in their community or globally. Entrants were asked to ‘like’ the Ripple Effect program page on Facebook and share a picture with a short essay or a short video showcasing their “ripple effect” — a brief narrative about how they would “change the world” by using their training to help those in greatest need.

The second winner will be announced March 17, 2015.

 

 

Suspect Ebola Case Tests Heart to Heart ETU Staff

The call came over the radio.  A new mother was showing signs of EVD – Ebola Virus Disease – and was now considered a “suspect case”.  She had just given birth 5 days prior in the large hospital next door to the Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) in Tappita, Liberia that Heart to Heart International (HHI) is operating.  This young mother had a fever, she was weak, lethargic.  And so the voice on the radio said the ambulance crew was on the way to retrieve her and the newborn baby, and deliver them to the ETU.

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In this tropical country, so close to the equator, an illness could be one of many things – dengue fever, yellow fever, lassa fever, malaria, among others.  But in this time of Ebola, no chances are taken.  So the hospital staff alerted the ETU staff.  And the ambulance crew that had been training for several days in a row on procedures and building teamwork, responded.  This was no training drill.  This was real.

Fortunately, the Ebola epidemic in Liberia has dropped significantly through a combination of a public awareness and education campaign by the Liberian government, the response of the US military, USAID, NGOs like HHI, International Medical Corps and others, and by the Liberian people themselves, as they embrace the changes to their culture in order to kick Ebola out of Liberia.  But still… the spectre of Ebola lurks.

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Outside the back entrance to the hospital, the ambulance crew began to don their PPE – Personal Protective Equipment.  These are the ‘space suits’ you see so many healthcare workers wearing – goggles, a body suit, triple gloves, mask.  Hotter than blazes inside it under the broiling African sun.  Because this was the real deal, as they pulled on the protective gear a few members of the crew began to sing a little Bob Marley tune – “don’t worry about a thing, cuz every little thing gonna be alright.”  I sang along as we all could feel the “what if” hanging in the humid air.

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Having one patient is one thing.  Having two, and one is a baby, is something more.  The newborn would have to go with the mother.  It took a little more coordination and thinking through the process, as you don’t move quickly or rashly when in PPE for fear of possible exposure.  But in the end, the training the crew has been doing paid off – the woman was loaded by stretcher onto the ambulance and the swaddled newborn was handed to a PPE-clad nurse to carry to the ETU.

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At the ETU, the donning tent was busy with staff dressing in PPE to take their positions as the mother and child were brought in through the patient gate of the ETU and directly into the Suspect Tent, where patients wait for test results before leaving or going to the Confirmed Tent.  Behind them trailed a sprayer, dousing the ground where they had walked carrying the patient, turning the path dark and wet with chlorine.

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A nurse drew a blood sample from both mother and child which was then hand-carried a couple of hundred yards to the US Army lab set up inside a wing of the hospital and placed inside a box outside the door.  Then, US Army Captain Jerod Brammer wearing his own PPE suit came to collect, spraying the outside of the box with chlorine before bringing the box inside to test the contents.

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The woman and child’s tests came back negative.  No EVD.  No Ebola.  And the woman and baby were taken back to the hospital, a better place for both than the sweltering suspect tent.  But this story doesn’t have a happy ending.  The woman died a day later.  Doctors shared that another medical condition likely caused her death.  The news tempered the joy of the job well done by the ETU staff and the negative test results.

Now our psychosocial team plans to help take the baby to the mother’s village. To family.  But also to a world that was already difficult and hard for babies, even before Ebola came to Liberia.

UPDATE 12Feb15: The worst news.  A few days after the mother died, her baby passed away too.  According to our Chief Medical Officer, the cause of the newborn’s death was not determined.

 

 

 

Building a Healthy Future in Haiti

A joint project between Heart to Heart International and BD continues to make a positive impact in Haiti, in part by providing training for healthcare workers in communities across the country.
What follows is a guest post from a member of the most recent BD Volunteer Service Team recently returned from Haiti.

stephanieHeart to Heart International continues to build an empowered and healthy Haiti through its training programs to address basic human needs

By Sushmita Bandopadhyay, BD VST member

“I want my community to be saved from malaria. I am the only one in my family who has stepped forward to fight it. My parents are happy that I am able to help Ayiti,” says Stephanie (pictured above), a community health agent who got involved in this year’s healthcare worker training in Thiotte, Haiti.

There are a number of young people like Stephanie who are committed to improving basic healthcare situation in Haiti. They walk miles to attend training on water, sanitation, hygiene and infectious diseases that will be exercised to address the community health challenges. After the training, she will now be able to do temperature and blood pressure checks for her community.

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The healthcare worker training was conducted by BD volunteers in Thiotte and in Belle Anse. Doctor OP Kansal, a BD volunteer, trained the participants on safe child delivery techniques in resource-limited settings. The group also went through a simulation exercise to better understand the concept.  As compared to last year’s training, this year’s curriculum distinctly included the WASH program that will help the community health agents greatly.  A staff member of HHI agreed that this training conducted by volunteers is very appropriate in this time when cholera seems to be prevalent in parts of Haiti, and added that the training manuals are a great reference for the health workers.

For some months now, HHI has been working on Kore Fanmi ­- a pilot program of the Haitian Government, funded by The World Bank in partnership with UNICEF, that intends to improve the provision of basic services to poor and vulnerable families in Haiti.  Several young and old people have been chosen to be a part of this movement who are undergoing training for Kore Fanmi.  Each trainer is responsible for a hundred families and makes regular visits to ensure family needs are understood and addressed well. Trainings and awareness workshops are being conducted across parts of the country and HHI is now working in Belle Anse in its second phase of the project.  Says John, a Kore Fanmi agent who attended the five-day workshop, “This year’s training has increased my knowledge and I feel I can contribute towards a healthier life in Haiti.”

Dr. OP

Over the years, such trainings have taught quality improvement methods to help communities manage the problems with confidence. For example, people are now eager to apply the cholera trainings and make progress. Health agents express an interest in attending such trainings which help them make a real change in the environment. Empowered with more knowledge and regular trainings, the community health care workers are daring to dream now. “My dream for Haiti is that every home has a ‘latrine’. I want to contribute towards this dream for my country,” says Andre, a participant with a twinkle in his eye.

These types of training programs and awareness workshops remain critical and are aiding communities in Haiti to live a better quality of life.

Lab Training in Papua New Guinea

The Lemacot Health Center laboratory on the Papua New Guinea island of New Ireland had closed several years ago due to a lack of funding.  Now it’s opening again, health workers are being trained, and residents of this remote island in the Pacific Ocean have better access to healthcare.

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(Ed. note) For several years, Heart to Heart International has worked in Haiti with corporate partner BD to develop and strengthen laboratory services in both urban and rural communities and to provide healthcare worker training through BD’s Volunteer Service Trip program. Now, drawing on that experience and fostering new partner relationships, we’ve replicated the training program on the other side of the world – Papua New Guinea.

Working with BD and the organization Australian Doctors International, we developed a one week laboratory training program to teach the World Health Organization (WHO) Laboratory Standards to lab managers on New Ireland (map).  The lessons include projects the laboratorians can take home and implement within a few weeks or months to increase the accuracy and consistency of laboratory testing.  This results in better patient diagnosis and treatment no matter the remote and rustic locations in which these lab managers work.

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The Lemacot Health Center serves 16,813 people within a 4 hour walk.  Lemacot nurses go into the countryside in order for people to access services no more than 10 minutes from home.  The nurses deliver more than 400 babies a year and track vaccinations for all the children in their coverage area.  Lemacot treats TB patients, HIV patients, trauma as well as general medicine.  Nurses, midwives, community health workers and health officers serve the local population – all without a physician.

PNG clinic

Lemacot Head Nurse, Sister Kathy, told us she could only attend the first and last day of our laboratory training.  We were pleasantly surprised when she came the next day and said she’d be there all week. She told the class that she had been working with her nursing staff to standardize practice in the health center.  As it turns out, the class we had taught on the first day was on the importance of SOP’s – Standardized Operating Procedures.  She said it rang true with her.

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She told us that she needs to encourage her staff to write and follow standardized procedures, knowing it’s key to consistent good nursing care.  It is all about the patient and this is the way to be sure patients receive the best care possible.

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We went to Papua New Guinea to improve laboratory science on the island of New Ireland and it looks as though our lessons will spread beyond the confines of the laboratory and into general healthcare.  If our efforts result in improved, consistent patient care in multiple areas – it’s more than we could have hoped for.

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Learn more about our Lab and Clinic services.