UC’s Department of Emergency Medicine hosted an international partner this month, bringing Haitian physician Linda Théodor, MD, to UC Health University Hospital.
Théodor first met UC physicians in 2011, a year after the January 2010 earthquake that devastated most of her country. For two years, UC Health Team Haiti, a group of 40-plus physicians, nurses, pharmacists, paramedics and respiratory therapists from University Hospital and Children’s Hospital Medical Center, has traveled to Port-au-Prince—Haiti’s capital—to volunteer at Hospital Bernard Mevs/Project Medishare, that nation’s only trauma and critical care hospital.
There, they treat patients alongside Théodor, who serves as one of two full-time Haitian physicians at the hospital.
Théodor works as both an emergency medicine and internal medicine physician at Bernard Mevs, and cares for patients in the hospital’s four-bed adult intensive care unit, the only ICU currently open in Haiti.
She was invited to Cincinnati by Team Haiti co-founder Jordan Bonomo, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine and neurosurgery, division of neurocritical care.
"When Jordan invited me to come here, it was a big chance,” she says. "I was very lucky to have this invitation, because it permitted me to see this working ICU. It was very interesting and exciting because I’ve never seen an ICU like this before.”
With the assistance of Jessica Wiles, RN, UC Team Haiti’s other cofounder, during her two-week stay, Théodor shadowed Bonomo and other physicians in the UC Health University Hospital’s Neuroscience ICU, emergency department, operating rooms, cardiovascular ICU, even spent a day flying on the Air Care helicopter.
She also trained on advanced cardiac monitoring technology developed by Cheetah Medical. The company, already partnered with University Hospital, has announced it will donate one of its state of the art cardiac monitors to Bernard Mevs.
Bonomo says UC Health Team Haiti members are now working with other physician volunteers from around the country to conduct a needs assessment for ultrasound technology at Bernard Mevs and to learn what the hospital needs and what technology it can support.
"You can donate anything you want,” he says, "but if there’s no consistent ability to use it or support it, it doesn’t do any good. So we’re trying to focus on ultrasound education when we’re there—with the Cheetah monitor and new ultrasound equipment, managing hypotensive, sick patients in the hospital becomes much higher quality.”
Théodor says the new technology and training is an opportunity to realize her hopes for
Bernard Mevs—the chance to optimize and moderinize their emergency department and intensive care unit.
"It’s very difficult to manage a patient in the ER in Haiti,” she says. "We don’t have all the equipment in the hospital, so if a patient comes in, we cannot do an EKG or an ultrasound in the same place. We have to send them somewhere else. If we have real equipment at Bernard Mevs, we’re going to decrease the mortality in the hospital.”
Théodor will get the opportunity to work with UC physicians again after the first of the year. UC Health Team Haiti is finalizing their third misison to the country, during which they expect to take nearly 100 medical volunteers over the course of three consecutive weeks to Bernard Mevs.
"We’ll have a big team going back next year,” says Bonomo, "and Linda’s our partner there. What we show her here is a parallel to what she shows us in Haiti. It’s difficult to take care of patients there. The trauma and ICU patients we can do, but we’re sometimes unfamiliar with many of the tropical diseases and need guidance to best function in that environment. So it’s a good partnership and we’re hoping to formalize it and build on it.
"We are in the midst of planning to bring the other full time Haitian physician at Bernard Mevs, Dr. Monale, here to train as well. Three years in and we’re still building momentum. This is what international partnerships are supposed to do and we are very happy with our team’s progress so far.”