Amy Champagne, a recent graduate of the University of New Orleans and former member of the U.S. Marine Corps, was Project HOPE’s Volunteer Operations Coordinator for New Horizons 2013, a humanitarian mission to Belize orchestrated by the U.S. Air Force. Six Project HOPE volunteers spent two weeks in Belize working to improve the quality of obstetric care.
Now we get to the most important part of our mission in Belize, the actual Advanced Life Support Obstetrics (ALSO) course.
If you are like me, you are probably thinking, “What does that mean?!?”
The ALSO program is designed to help physicians, midwives, labor and delivery nurses, and other health care providers develop and maintain the knowledge and skills needed to manage potential emergencies during the perinatal period. The ALSO course utilizes hands-on teaching with mannequins and case-based discussions. Role-modeling sessions with teams are used to emphasize course content, improve manual techniques and promote patient safety.
According to HOPE volunteer Holly Kirkland-Walsh, a family nurse practitioner, one of the biggest problems in developing nations worldwide is obesity and the complications it can cause in childbirth. According to global ALSO statistics, 15-20% of pregnancies are abnormal and could result in complications during birth - which is why taking an ALSO course is so recommended.
The first day of the course began with an introduction by the Belizean Ministry of Health. Each one of our HOPE volunteers then taught a separate course.
Alice Taylor taught about safety in maternity care, while Amy Kogut taught first trimester complications. Meanwhile, Cherri Dobson and Holly Kirkland-Walsh did hands-on training for intra-partum fetal surveillance and demonstrations on the mannequins doing assisted vaginal delivery.
The rest of the course continued with a series of lectures and hands-on demonstrations. Amy Kogut and I set up a hemorrhaging station with four different amounts of blood loss: 100mm, 200mm, 500mm and 1000mm. Amy explained that by 1000mm the mother would be in serious danger of losing her life. At the end of the course, a test was administered and all of the students passed. It was a very successful course.
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