Monday, March 22, 2010

Even With Minimal Resources, Emergency Preparation Possible

During our stay at Tema General Hospital (TGH) we have been afforded the opportunity to meet dozens of clinical employees. Time and again we have been impressed with the skill sets and forward thinking of these staff members given their limited resources.

One of these visionaries is Dr. Sylvia Deganus, head of the OB unit at TGH. We were fortunate enough to meet her as she passed through the hospital to pick up her mail, as she is on vacation for two weeks. While on vacation she has traveled to rural communities throughout the country to perform workshops for midwives on the importance of preparation for OB emergencies. Dr. Deganus teaches these skilled practitioners to prepare for emergencies by creating “emergency packs.” As Dr. Deganus noted “time is crucial” and “readiness during an emergency” is of the utmost importance.

Dr. Deganus has put her plan into action at TGH. In a country where the maternal mortality rate is 500 deaths to 100,000 live births and a hospital where 8,000 deliveries occur annually, she recognized the importance of swift and prepared action during maternal emergencies. Dr. Deganus was the driving force behind pre-made “emergency packs” in the maternity unit at TGH. Currently, three types of packs have been made; eclampsia, post-partum hemorrhage and ante-partum hemorrhage. These lunch-box sized, clear plastic boxes are filled with gloves, an IV catheter, tourniquet, bag of normal saline, and medications specific to the condition. Centrally located in the department the outside of each box is labeled with the contents.

As Julianne the lead OB nurse, explained she personally checks the boxes each morning to make sure all of the supplies are present. Written protocols for management of the various conditions and the responsibilities of each team member line the walls of the OB unit at TGH.

Even though evaluating maternal services was not the primary goal of this mission, by being acquainted with the different units at TGH we have found ideal practices in one unit that can be modeled throughout the facility. It is this type of emergency preparedness that Project HOPE hopes one day will be the standard throughout TGH.

Thanks for reading - Elise Chamberlain and Marley Gevanthor

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