Thursday, September 10, 2009

HOPE Volunteers Provide Education to Eager Students at JFK in Liberia

On Labor Day – a propos! – the “Hopies” began presenting a midwifery “training update” course at the JFK Memorial Medical Center. We have 45 “students” – 23 midwives, 17 nurses, and 5 nurse-midwives – with experience ranging from 3 to 27 years of practice. I’m going to call them students even though they are professionals in the truest sense and we have learned from them each day.

The group is split into morning and afternoon sections and meets in a well-ventilated conference room about 30 feet by 15 feet, located in the mental health resource center on the ground floor of the Memorial Hospital. Just down the hall, classes are held for the first-year midwife students of the Tubman National Institute of Medical Arts (TNIMA). TNIMA was founded in 1945, and 30 of our students are alumna. Most of those 30 have 11 years or less experience, a handful have 20 or more years’ experience. Only two have between 11 and 20 years experience – that decade was a time when civil conflict was at its worst, when studying to save lives most difficult.

At the far end of the building is the School of Nursing. We walk past it every time we go to and from the Maternity Hospital. The faces of the students there reflect an atmosphere of learning and eagerness to progress. Of all the students we’ve met, none are more eager than 18 of the first-year TNIMA class. They waited for our afternoon session to end today (Wednesday) so that we could teach them the unit on newborn resuscitation. I have a feeling that isn’t the only class they’ll want us to teach them. I was touched by how several of them said to us, “God bless you for coming here to teach us.”

Speaking of units, here’s the curriculum the Project HOPE volunteers are teaching in addition to newborn resuscitation: determining gestational age, antepartum hemorrhaging, hypertensive disorders, Apgar scoring, partogram, shoulder dystocia, malaria in pregnancy, active management of the 3rd stage/postpartum hemorrhage, and more.

We had a guest speaker at today’s resuscitation sessions – Dr. Venee Tubman, a pediatrician from Boston Children’s. She’s the granddaughter of the T in TNIMA; he was the president of Liberia. She is here as a volunteer for two months and has a highly engaging personality. Everywhere I look, there are positive people here!

Thanks for reading…Tom Stanton

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