To learn how to diagnose and then care for those patients after surgery, a 7-person team from St. Damien has been visiting Akron Children’s during the past 6 weeks.
They’ve been spending quite a bit of time studying Akron Children’s pediatric intensive care unit.
In addition to participating in daily rounds in the PICU, the team has been doing medical simulations and practicing procedures, and even learning Lean Six Sigma principles and doing their own quality improvement project.
Perhaps the most valuable training was following 2 boys from Haiti – a 10 year old and a 2 year old – as they underwent heart surgeries. They observed pre-surgical diagnostic tests and physical exams, watched Drs. Phil Smith and Michael Spector perform the surgeries, and then stayed with the boys through their recovery.
Dr. Beatrice Fontalis has taken note of the differences between St. Damien and Akron Children’s, including many things most likely taken for granted here, such as ventilation equipment in every PICU room and CT scans.
Nurses play more active role in U.S.
After observing rounds in the PICU one morning, Dr. Fontalis noted the more active role that nurses take in the process.
“Here, nurses present the medical history, the vital signs and the labs,” she said. “When we do rounds, nurses participate but do not speak.”
She noted that St. Damien treats children with many more infectious diseases, such as malaria, pneumonia, meningitis and tuberculosis.
She looks forward to being able to offer the children of Haiti the same surgeries that are routinely available to all children in the United States.
“There are far, far too many kids in Haiti to fix,” said Dr. Kempf. “But this will be a good start. St. Damien’s should be ready to handle the more minor congenital heart surgeries, but the children with the more complex defects and in need of multi-stage surgeries will still need to travel to the United States.”
One good outcome of the earthquake was the mobilization of healthcare providers and humanitarians to help Haiti.
Dr. Kempf has worked to not only send delegations of Akron Children’s doctors and nurses to St. Damien over the past 4 years, but he also helps coordinate efforts with 6 other children’s hospitals across the United States.
Dr. John Clark, a pediatric cardiologist who has taken several trips to Haiti, said it can be emotionally difficult to be limited in what he can offer parents when he is at St. Damien.
“The need is overwhelming,” he said.
Local, regional and national chapters of Rotary International and Gift of Life gave a grant to cover the cost of bringing the Haitian clinicians to Akron Children’s, as well as paying $5,000 for each boy’s surgery – just a fraction of the actual cost.
Story first published on inside.akronchildrens.org