Thursday, January 13, 2011

In the Field Blog Now Hosted on Project HOPE Web Site

Our blogs are now being hosted on the Project HOPE Web site. Enjoy our continuing blogs from staff and volunteers In the Field working in HOPE's lifesaving health education and humanitarian assistance programs around the world.

In the Field Blog now at

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Seasons Greetings From Project HOPE

As part of the Project HOPE family, we’d like to wish you a warm and joyous holiday season. Thanks to your continued support and contributions, we have been able to achieve another year of lifesaving health care missions all around the world. We are truly grateful to be part of an organization that has so many extraordinary supporters!

Also, please take a few minutes to check out our new Web Site. Our recent redesign now includes hosting our blogs on our site.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Saving Lives in Haiti

The second rotation of Project HOPE volunteer medical personnel has just returned from Haiti after spending up to three weeks in Hôpital Albert Schweitzer fighting that country's cholera outbreak. The six nurses and one doctor worked every day on the cholera ward. The hospital, which is located in Haiti's Artibonite River Valley, is at the epicenter of the outbreak.

The largest proportion of Haiti's cases are from that region, and this team arrived just after Hurricane Tomas stirred up the water sources and brought cholera to a large percentage of the population. Below are some of the experiences they had while there:

Nurses Katie D'Entremont, Aislinn Mangan, and Cheri Hoffman were working the night shift when a very sick boy arrived. The boy was severely dehydrated from cholera, plus was suffering from severe asthma. His airway was almost closed off, and his blood oxygen levels were very low. No one was available from the pharmacy to dispense medications that could help, so the nurses scoured the hospital to find the appropriate drugs. The steroids and airway dilators were found on the Pediatric ward, and the boy was stabilized thanks to their efforts.

Susan Hall, RN had worked a long day shift on the cholera ward and was relaxing one evening. She heard that there was a very sick patient who had arrived who needed IV access for fluids. No one on the ward had been able to obtain access, so Susan ran back to the ward to help. Using the skills acquired after years of cardiac surgery experience, she was able to quickly cannulate a vein so that the patient could get the resuscitative fluids she needed.

Micaela Root, RN, a first time HOPE volunteer, had only four hours notice that she would be going to Haiti! She quickly got her affairs in order, obtained the time off from work, and ran to catch her plane. Micaela was an invaluable member of the nursing team while there, working nonstop to change IV fluids in a timely manner, flush clotted IVs, and assist in resuscitations.

Steven Gardner, MD and Cherri Dobson, RN worked together to save one patient who was discovered in hypovolemic shock. The patient was unresponsive, without palpable pulses, and had a heart rate of 30. Cherri, who was not at work at the time, was summoned when the staff was unable to place an IV. She ran over from the library and was able to place an effective IV in the patient. Meanwhile, Dr. Gardner put a catheter in the femoral vein and was manually holding it in place while fluids were pumped in. The patient survived and was walking around the next day.

Those were just some of the many experiences had by the HOPE team during their stay at HAS. Cholera is a devastating disease, but it is very curable if the medical and nursing teams work efficiently to provide rapid fluid resuscitation. All the volunteers had a very rewarding time at HAS, and all were tired but happy to return home after their rotation was over.

Story submitted by Project HOPE volunteer Cherri Dobson, a critical care nurse from Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California. Cherri recently returned from Haiti, her fourth volunteer mission for Project HOPE.

Monday, December 6, 2010

HOPE offers Diabetes Holiday Cooking Class in rural New Mexico

“Getting through the Holidays on a Healthy Note!”

Project HOPE New Mexico in collaboration with our partners, New Mexico Department of Public Health (NMDOH), Luna County Health Council, PMS Deming Health Center and the Luna County Extension Office, hosted a diabetes cooking class to help educate residents on how to prepare a diabetes-friendly holiday meal.

With all the traditional sweet foods and holiday gatherings, the holiday season can be challenging for people with diabetes and their families. The goal of the HABITS for Life program is to educate and offer alternative strategies for eating healthy. HOPE and its partners realized the need for offering a class that can get people “Through the Holidays on a Healthy Note” and worked together to coordinate this event.

Residents, partners and HOPE representatives gathered around the kitchen for the diabetes cooking class and also had an open discussion about managing Holiday stress at Bethel Baptist Church in Deming, New Mexico on December 3rd. Men and women were taught how to make lasagna, salad and a traditional Mexican bread pudding known as capirotada, using healthy options.

The event was extremely successful and appreciated by those individuals who attended. One male resident said, “This is such an important class because being a care giver for my wife who has Type 1 diabetes, ….. I ran out of ideas of things to make my wife. I cook for her every single day, all meals and this was delicious…. I am so glad that I came.”

Story and photos submitted by Trudy Gallegos BCH, MA. Trudy is Project HOPE's Health Educator and Outreach Supervisor for our new Habits for Life program in New Mexico.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Volunteers Visit Orphanage

While in Haiti, the HOPE team has befriended one of their local Haitian drivers, an amazing and gentle man named Val Franklin. Val runs an orphanage for 51 children ranging from age two to high school age. The orphanage is in a little town called Bongnotte just outside of Leogane one of the hardest hit areas during the January 12th earthquake here in Haiti.

The orphanage is called Val’s Children’s Home Care. The building that used to be the orphanage was destroyed during the earthquake but thankfully none of the children or staff were injured. The orphanage not only provides the necessities for living such as food, clothing and shelter for these 51 children but the orphanage also has a school attached to it that educates over 300 children from surrounding areas. The original idea for the orphanage came to Val during a time of great adversity. During the elections in Haiti in the mid 1980’s Val was driving for a team of journalists when he was shot four times. He made an internal promise that if his life was spared and he were to walk again he would dedicate his life to children in need. The doors of the orphanage opened in 1988 and a dedicated woman named “Aunt” Imma has lived and worked at the orphanage caring for these children ever since. In order to support the orphanage Val has driven a car and taxi service ever since its inception.

While there the HOPE team had the great pleasure of listening to all the children sing a hand washing song that Val had taught them. The song was led by one of their schoolteachers who had grown up in Val’s orphanage and stayed in the village to teach. These children were happy and smiling and engaging despite all that they have been through. Val is an example of what’s great about Haiti. He loves his people, he loves his country and he wants to see the children of Haiti thrive. He has long-term goals of rebuilding the orphanage and rebuilding their school. Goals that these HOPE volunteers want to help him achieve. After a couple of weeks of being witness to the devastation the cholera epidemic has rained upon the youth of Haiti it was so refreshing to see the smiling faces at Val’s Children’s Home Care – smiling faces we will not soon forget!

Photos and story submitted by HOPE volunteer, Carrie Alexander, a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and Johns Hopkins MPH student.

HOPE for Kids with Cancer

As my visit to Shanghai comes to an end, one of my lasting impressions will be the faces of the children. Behind their heart-melting smiles are the hopes and dreams for the future of this amazing country. And Project HOPE is making sure China’s future is healthy and bright.

I was startled to hear that 30 percent of children with cancer in China do not seek appropriate follow-up care. Even worse, 40 percent of children with cancer never receive care.

Project HOPE, Shanghai Children’s Medical Center, Hospira and other partners are diligently working to change those numbers, as well as alleviate the suffering and save the lives of children.
Why am I optimistic? Just as Project HOPE, SCMC and multiple corporate and private partners developed the hospital into the world’s #1 center for pediatric heart surgery in less than 12 years, we expect the same results for the enhanced oncology program as well.

As I mentioned earlier this week, the new Oncology Tower at Shanghai Children’s Medical Center will more than double the number of beds available to care for children with cancer.

In addition, the Shanghai City Government recently approved the addition of a new facility that will house 500 general medicine beds that will literally double the size of the hospital and provide more opportunities for care for the children of China.

The new Oncology Tower and the new general medicine hospital building also will include facilities and technology to educate and train even more doctors and nurses from around China. Project HOPE will direct many of the training programs that will ultimately enhance the delivery of care and improve the health of children in urban and rural areas across China.

It’s a daunting task, but one that Project HOPE, SCMC and its partners are up to. When it comes to the health of China’s and the world’s children, Project HOPE is ready to take action.

Story by Rand Walton, HOPE's Director of Strategic Communications, now in China for the groundbreaking of the new Oncology Tower at Shanghai Children's Medical Center.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Providing Immediate Care and Building for the Future

Cholera Experts Visit HOPE Volunteers

After several days on the road the ICDDR,B Project HOPE team flew out of Cap Haitien on the Northern coast of Haiti back to Port Au Prince only to turn right around and make the trip by car into the Artibonite Valley where cholera first appeared in Haiti. The first stop on their trip was to Hôpital Albert Schweitzer (HAS), a long-standing partner of Project HOPE’s since the January earthquake.

Since the earthquake Project HOPE has supplied volunteer doctors, nurses and physical therapists to HAS to support the Haitian staff there. In the wake of the earthquake and now with the cholera epidemic, like many other hospitals in Haiti, HAS has seen their census rise requiring an augmentation of staff. The team was met by nurse Jill Caporiccio, a long-term HOPE volunteer now working at HAS from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Mrs. LeGrand Mellon and other staff. The team spent the day touring the facilities at HAS and assessing their cholera ward. In contrast to some of the other sites visited by the team the cholera ward at HAS was well staffed, seemed to have a good supply of required cholera related items due to a recent resupply by Project HOPE, and seemed to have good systems in place to handle their cholera census. The ICDDR,B team was able to collect some cholera samples, which will be added to the cholera samples they procured at other sites and will be sent back to the national lab in Port Au Prince for culture and sensitivity.

While at HAS it was suggested by local staff that the team go a short distance down the road to the town of Verettes where there is another cholera treatment center (CTC) being run by International Medical Corps (IMC). There the team was able to collect more samples to add to their database of samples to go to the national lab. While at the IMC CTC the ICDDR,B team nurses were able to do some bedside hands-on training for the nurses on the ward imparting important information about the appropriate triage and treatment of the most fragile of cholera patients. The team has found this mode of training, the hands on at the bedside approach, is the most powerful of training tools. One they hope to help replicate at numerous levels in Haiti both at the institutional level and at the academic level having it added to nursing and medical curriculum.

Photos and story submitted by HOPE volunteer, Carrie Alexander, a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and Johns Hopkins MPH student.

Construction of Rehab Buildings Brings Work, Comfort and HOPE

While reports of post-election frustrations and violence fill the news, Project HOPE continues to build a Rehabilitation Center in southern Haiti. U.S. volunteers are training Haitians to construct the modular buildings to help build local skills and capacity and provide needed income as the buildings go up. Local residents gather daily to see the walls rise on the three buildings that will provide needed rehabilitation services over the coming months and years.

Eddy, 33, and a construction trainee, says this is the first time he has worked with prefabricated, foam core materials. He appreciates the opportunity to develop new skills. "I love it. I want to put all my strength into learning this new approach to building."

He adds, "Even though I was not physically harmed in the earthquake, I was harmed emotionally. Now when I walk into a building I automatically go to the corner. I like the idea of this type of building because I feel safe." He also points out that when the people stay at the Center in short-term housing while being fitted for prosthetics, they will feel safe and not be afraid of another collapse.

This fear of concrete structures, and a need for rapid construction, prompted HOPE to choose the modular design for the Rehab Center which will include a clinic, a dormitory building for patients and a housing building for volunteers.

Near the Rehab Center is a camp of people living in tents. One million people lost their homes in the earthquake. The camp school is run by a teacher who is an amputee. The school has no table for children to do their work; instead they lean on seat chairs to write their lessons. Mike, the lead builder, made a table for the school. The kids and moms cheered when he was finished. Now they have a place to do their school work– and to eat their lunch.

Report and photos by Bonnie Hudlet, HOPE photographer.

World AIDS Day China

Many advances in medicine to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS worldwide and to improve care to patients have been made over the past several years. However, there is still more work to be done.

On World AIDS Day, I’m reminded of that work as I read the headline of the Shanghai Daily: “AIDS kills 68,000 in China in just a year.” The loss of life and suffering caused by HIV/AIDS is sobering and regrettable.

However, while in China this week, I am reminded of the work Project HOPE has performed in this country with the support of global companies such as Abbott, Pfizer and others to help people with HIV/AIDS.

During 2002 in Central China, improper plasma donation transmitted HIV to more than 250,000 rural farmers. With the assistance of our corporate partners and the leadership of China’s leading HIV/AIDS expert, Dr. Gui Xi’en, Project HOPE launched a training program in Hubei Province to introduce antiretrovirals as part of the treatment regimen.

Project HOPE trained 78 “master” trainers who then trained more than 8,700 doctors, nurses and laboratory technicians on how to incorporate the antiretrovirals into patient care.

The training was invaluable and lifesaving. Between 2002 and 2006, deaths among the HIV patients in Hubei Province dropped 72 percent. Read More from Health Affairs.

Innovative approaches like Project HOPE initiated in China, combined with the tremendous work of our NGO colleagues and continued advances in medicine will make a difference in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Story by Rand Walton, HOPE's Director of Strategic Communications, now in China for the groundbreaking of the new Oncology Tower at Shanghai Children's Medical Center.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Another Haiti is Possible"

Today the Project HOPE and The Humanitarian Network team began putting together the dorm building that will house volunteers who come to Haiti to help with HOPE’s physical rehabilitation program. The building is going up next to a small tent “town.”

I had the opportunity to speak to Joseph Charles, 21, a Haitian who has been working on the building site as an interpreter and site manager. I asked Joseph what it has meant to him to work on this project.

“I can't wait to get up in the morning to get to the site,” he told me. “Sometimes I wake up at midnight and look at the clock wishing it was time to start working.”

Working on the building team is helping him see a path to Haiti’s recovery. “I realize that you [Mike, Ron, Bonnie] really, really care about what you are doing. Most NGOs just come and spend money, but not work on projects,” he says. “Maybe you are all sons of God. You are all blessed and you do things differently. I keep thinking about [how you make] every detail very important. It is very rare to find people like this and I will do my best to be part of the team.”

You see, Joseph wants to make a difference in his native land. “I want to help as much as possible to make a new Haiti,” he says. With a lot of hard work, and a little help from others, Joseph is confident, “another Haiti is possible.”

Story and photos by Bonnie Hudlet, HOPE photographer.

Groundbreaking for Pediatric Oncology Tower

Rain could not dampen the spirits of the hundreds who gathered today at Shanghai Children’s Medical Center to witness the ground breaking for a new 148-bed Oncology Tower.

The lifesaving care and resources the new tower will bring are greatly needed. Last year, the doctors and nurses at Shanghai Children’s Medical Center admitted and cared for more than 2,400 children with cancer. In addition, another 21,285 children with cancer were treated through the hospital on an outpatient basis.

The new seven-story Oncology Tower more than doubles the number of beds the Medical Center currently dedicates to cancer patients. Also, the new tower, which will be completed by 2012, will house research facilities to investigate new treatments and processes for improving care to children.

And thanks to a $1 million grant from Project HOPE partner Hospira, health professional training and the development of a palliative care program will begin immediately. A relatively new concept in China, palliative care will bring much needed physical and emotional support to children and their families addressing the tough challenges associated with cancer and its treatments.

Stuart Myers, Senior Vice President for Global Health at Project HOPE, said it best, “Despite the rain today, this is a bright day for the children of China.”

Story and photos by Rand Walton, HOPE's Director of Strategic Communications, now in China for the groundbreaking of the new Oncology Tower at Shanghai Children's Medical Center.