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HOPE works in more than 35 countries worldwide. Please enjoy our blog as we document the successes and challenges of our work to provide Health Opportunities for People Everywhere.
Posted By Caitlin Mateer, RN, Project HOPE volunteer on Pacific Partnership 2015 on July 29, 2015
Since joining the Pacific Partnership 2015 mission, I have focused most of my efforts taking care of children before and after surgical procedures. Last week I took care of a baby boy who was recovering from a surgery that fixed his cleft lip.
When a child is in utero and the face is developing, sometimes the lip and palate do not form properly, leaving the child with what looks like a gap in his or her top lip. This is referred to as a cleft lip or cleft palate. You can imagine how such an abnormality could severely and negatively affect a baby's quality of life. So I was glad to be a part of the life-changing team that would fix this abnormality forever. A cleft lip or cleft palate is a relatively common birth defect around the world. However most of us rarely witness it, because in the developed world it usually gets fixed quite early in life.
Unfortunately for this boy, who lives in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, this surgery was not available. Consequently, for the first three months of life, he was unable to breastfeed or drink from a bottle. As a result, the boy is severely underweight, despite his family's best efforts to feed him with a spoon. Spoon-feeding is an exhausting process for a newborn, requiring exertion for which the boy did not have the energy to spend. A typical feeding for him was unsatisfying and insufficient. It was wonderful to see the immediate results of the surgery when his lip was repaired. We taught him to take a special type of nipple on a bottle, and the first time he was offered the bottle he took to it with no issues and drank a full 200ml! He then slept for an hour and wanted another bottle.
It was a very special experience to witness the dramatic difference made in this boy’s life, and I am very glad to be a part of the incredible team working to make that difference in as many children's lives as possible on Pacific Partnership 2015.
Posted By: Molly Broderick on July 29, 2015
During the Pacific Partnership 2015 mission, Project HOPE staff member Kenly Flanigan and HOPE volunteer nurse Kim Kancir took part in a Subject Matter Expert Exchange (SMEE) at Saint Mary's Hospital in Kokopo, Papua New Guinea, led by my roommate, Lieutenant Commander Katherine Chiu. Saint Mary's is run by the archdiocese and is staffed by lovely people. The hospital is located on a sprawling campus with ocean views.
The goal of the day was to engage with and instruct the nursing staff at the hospital on various topics on which they might need training. However, the staff was swamped when we arrived. So our team members spread out to help where they could. After a couple of hours of meeting with patients and observing the St. Mary's nurses, Kim and Kenly led a workshop on updated CPR techniques.
Many of the nurses at the hospital hadn't renewed their CPR certification in many years. So the information they were receiving was brand new. Kim and Kenly worked as a team to instruct everyone on infant and adult CPR. They then observed and gave tips as everyone practiced on the dummies.
CPR certification may seem like a simple thing, but often simple things get overshadowed here. The CPR technique - originally taught to most people as “ABC” (airway, breath sounds, compressions) - was changed two years ago to “CAB” (compressions, airway, breath sounds). When I discovered that the nurses we met were unaware of the updated technique for basic life support, I realized the significance of events like SMEEs and Community Health Engagements. Volunteer medical personnel can travel to a place to perform procedures and administer medicines, but when this care is combined with collaboration and education, the results are invaluable.
Posted By: Molly Broderick on July 9, 2015
Pat Blanco joined us for the first half of the Pacific Partnership mission’s Rotation 1 in Fiji. When I greeted her on the USNS Mercy, I was excited to discover that she was one of the original Project HOPE nurses. At 25 years old, Pat was doing field work in Mexico for her Master’s degree in family planning at the University of Hawaii when she was approached by a classmate working as a project manager for Project HOPE and in dire need of a public health educator for children in Cartagena, Colombia. The rest is history! Pat went to Columbia and worked from January 1969 through April 1971 as an integrated member of the community, educating the people there about important health issues and training new nurses to fulfill their best potential.
When she started with HOPE, Pat worked on land-based missions. So, this time around, living on not just a ship, but a naval hospital ship, has certainly been an adjustment. We live in accordance with Navy rules and regulations. This means that we experience early mornings, military jargon, and aspects of the mission we would otherwise most likely never have the opportunity to see, like various Navy traditions and flying helicopters to remote villages to work with Army and Navy officers and the local people.
This year, Pat arrived in Suva, Fiji excited to work with Project HOPE once again and return to her roots as a community educator. Pat spent her days on the mission at community health fairs and engagements and in meetings with the Fijian Ministry of Health. When asked if she had any significant encounters with patients, she said each person she met with was memorable. But Pat noted the significance of two women in particular whom she had taught breast self-exams.
"I spoke with two women who had both found lumps in their breasts and hadn't done anything about it. It mind-boggled me," Pat said. "I told them they need to go to the doctor in Savusavu today and explained that the longer you wait, the bigger it will get. They promised they were going to the doctor immediately."
In addition to her work as a nurse, Pat is a Weight Watchers instructor in Florida. She noted that high blood pressure and diabetes are both serious issues in Fiji. So she spoke with a nurse about how to prevent these diseases by implementing proper weight control. She talked with the Fijian nurses about how to start a similar program in Savusavu to educate women on a healthy diet.
“Many people have a terrible fear of the hospital,” said Pat. “So I suggested to them that if they have nutrition and exercise classes and fun options at the hospital, there would be a more positive association with the hospital and more opportunities for sufficient medical care. People could come to the hospital and leave with a positive attitude, and the culture of living in mortal fear of going to the hospital could eventually change. I thought that was really rewarding."
The nurses Pat spoke with were very excited by her ideas and intend on starting a program at their hospital.
Posted By: Molly Broderick on July 9, 2015
Labels: , Volunteers
Bula bula everyone! We had an exciting and productive week in Fiji! At port in Suva and anchored in Savusavu, our volunteers travelled to shore to participate in community health engagements, subject matter expert exchanges, and community outreach missions. Rose Wilson and I were fortunate enough to participate in a mission to bring water filters to Savusavu and to villages on the island of Taveuni. We worked with members of the Army Civil Affairs team (CAT) and members of the Navy to coordinate the delivery and installation of the filters, and engaged with students from a vocational school on the island to complete various renovations on the nursing centers we visited. We had the pleasure of meeting many of the individuals who will benefit from the filters.
To start the project, Rose visited the Ministry of Health in Savusavu to discuss how to better educate and implement clean water.
“We went to install these water filters on request from the Ministry of Health,” said Rose. Fiji has access to a lot of water on account of high rainfall, and some of the farms etc. do use tanks, but there are pockets of the community that use water out of creeks and other less sanitary sources. At places like clinics, hospitals, schools, and nursing stations, water is still boiled to rid it of impurities and bacteria. So we brought the filters to be installed in those locations. We installed one in the actual Ministry of Health to promote clean water and to teach them how to do it themselves, so that they are better equipped to help communities access clean water all the time.”
The next day we set out for Taveuni, a beautiful island inhabited by wonderful, welcoming people. It is one of Fiji's larger islands, but it is remote and access to filtered water is very limited. We flew there from the ship by helicopter and landed on a rugby field and were greeted by the local team in the midst of their morning practice. We then proceeded to drive north to the first nursing station of our visit.
Many of the water tanks we saw collected rainwater from gutters and were sitting on decomposing platforms. Our teams assembled the water filters and explained how they work and how to maintain them, and simultaneously worked with the students to rebuild and reinforce the platforms the water tanks rest on. While the students from the vocational school constructed the new platform under the guidance of the CAT, I met several inquisitive little girls whose mothers were visiting the nursing center. I explained how the water filter would give them cleaner, healthier water to drink and shared my MRE, or meal ready to eat, with them. One of the CATs shared his M&Ms with them, which were promptly spit out and traded for fresh mandarin oranges plucked right from the trees! I felt very lucky to be able to interact with and learn from some of the children whose lives will be positively impacted by this particular mission.
Before the water filters, the people at the nursing stations had to boil the water and wait for it to cool down before using it. After our visit, the benefits were visible right away. The brown, muddy water that went into the filters came out clear and clean, and, as Rose put it, “this was important for them to see because it heightened enthusiasm and excitement to install filters elsewhere, and now they know how to do it. They can now go and install them in spaces themselves.” Everyone was very happy! The children we met were thrilled and loved watching the water go in dirty and come out clear- it was like magic to them!
The mission was successful and directly coincided with Project HOPE's goal to help people help themselves. We left each location satisfied that the water filters will prove effective and be used properly for years to come. Empowering the people of Savusavu and Taveuni with the gift of clean water was very powerful and made Rose and I especially appreciative and conscious of the access we have to clean water.
Posted By Megha Gupta on July 6, 2015
Project HOPE is part of a consortium of organizations taking part in Project UDAY, a comprehensive diabetes prevention and management program in India. Project HOPE is responsible for training the dedicated project staff and community health workers and developing patient networks in the municpality of Sonipat, which is near New Delhi.
Project HOPE, in collaboration with the partner organizations and the state government’s health department, held sensitization sessions on diabetes and hypertension prevention and management for Sonipat’s community health workers on June 25th and 30th 2015 in both rural and urban areas of Sonipat.
The events were inaugurated by Dr. J.S. Punica, Chief Medical Officer of the Sonipat district and Dr. Mahender Singh, Deputy Chief Medical of Officer of the Sonipat district. The sessions began with oath taking ceremonies by all of the participants to spread awareness about diabetes and hypertension prevention and management among the community, including themselves, their families, friends and other people. Following the oaths were two hours of interactive sensitization trainings.
During these sessions, Project HOPE also organized a display about “making healthy food choices.” Using traffic light signals and symbols, the community health workers were trained to educate their communities in healthy eating. Food items from the region were segregated and displayed. The healthiest food items were placed in the green light zone. Foods to be consumed moderately were placed in the yellow light zone, and foods to be consumed only occasionally were placed in the red light zone. This information was well absorbed by the participating community health workers.
In the coming months, Project HOPE will organize more of these type of sessions in Sonipat and Vishakhapatnam, sensitizing and reinforcing the knowledge and skills needed to prepare community health workers to spread awareness on the importance of preventing or better managing diabetes and hypertension.