“In neuroscience nursing, a nurse’s skills and intuition are critical to the wellbeing of our patient population,” says Marjorie, registered nurse at Vancouver General Hospital’s neurosciences unit. “In most disciplines, a patient can advocate for themselves. For example, a baby can wail, a patient experiencing chest pain can cry out. However, in the neuroscience population when a patient is deteriorating, they are dependent on the observational skills and actions of the primary caregivers. They have lost the ability to advocate for themselves. Often, a neuro nurse is required to use their 6th sense in determining a patient is in trouble. ‘Something just doesn’t feel right.’ Narrowing down the cause and proactively informing the physicians may prevent permanent disability or worse. Early detection can be the difference between life and death, returning home fully recovered or transferring to rehabilitation or longterm care.” In addition to her busy life as a neuro nurse, Marjorie also finds time to operate a charitable organization named, “Korle-Bu Neuroscience Foundation.” In February 2000, while working in the NICU in an educator capacity, a West African neurosurgeon approached her and asked if she would consider traveling to Ghana in order to train his nurses. The outcome: 16+ years of VGH and BC Health Authorities participation in supporting some of the most vulnerable regions in West Africa. Providing hospital equipment, beds, recycled consumables, educational support, surgical and medical expertise – Marjorie has made it her mission to balance the scales in favour of care. She recalls, “during the Ebola outbreak, our international team of neurosurgeons, nurses, RTs and biomedical engineer conducted neurosurgery on 20 patients in the eastern jungle of Liberia. Lives were transformed, tumours were extracted and lives restored. During Ebola’s height, hundreds of hospital beds along with humanitarian aid were shipped over to this most vulnerable region. They felt like someone truly cared, something that had been almost extinguished. It brought hope that a new day would dawn. The Liberian Minister of Health visited VGH post Ebola to give official thanks.”
Our Fall Mission began with the arrival of Karen Currie, RN, in Ghana on November 6th 2016. Dianne Perry, RN BSN, a recently retired Canadian nursing educator, with expertise in various specialties including surgery, obstetrics and tropical diseases, joined Karen from Europe. Dell highly recommended Dianne and KBNF was able to facilitate her Ghana Visa via Italy.
After a 2 day stay in Accra, they travelled to Techiman by air. Karen and Dianne discovered a kindred spirit. Dianne’s influence was immediate, as she commenced her day on the nursing units at 05.30 hrs. Working alongside the nurses, Dianne taught them in groups of 2s and 3s in short sprints. She was urgently called to the OR one night to help deliver a baby via C- section. Mom and baby were in crisis and it was thought that the baby would not survive. However, both mom and babe did fine, much to everyone’s relief. Triplets were born and are doing fine, coming in for regular weekly checkups. Dianne’s impact was well noted and she reports she will be pleased to return for future missions.
Hazardous nursing practises were addressed and corrected. Some of these practises we have tried to correct in the past, but were observed to have resumed. Having the by-in of various nursing leaders helped to make this transition more effective. Providing an alternative that made sense to the nurses seemed to have the desired effect. Reinforcement was necessary and will continue to be so. Another decision solidified by Dr. Kessie to enhance nursing care is that the TV perched by the nursing station would be relocated to the maternity unit. Nightshift breaks are being monitored closely and have improved.
The nursing administrators, Thomas and Robert are motivated and understand the need to advance the nursing department. They partnered closely with Karen and Dianne throughout their stay, very grateful for all the expertise. They look forward to visiting Vancouver for an educational experience.
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Erica’s Update: Change takes a Champion
Dear friends, in 2014 Korle-Bu Neuroscience Foundation went to Liberia for our first Liberian Neurosurgical Medical Mission. We went at the invitation of Dr. Francis Kateh, then the CEO of Jackson F. Doe Memorial Referral Hospital, now Deputy Minister of Health. Our team of volunteer nurses, surgeons and support staff came from Canada, America and Nigeria to give Erica the chance of a lifetime.
Because of her plea, many more Liberians were able to get the vital Neurosurgery they needed. While we were there, Ebola broke out. We soldiered on, and when we got back to Canada, KBNF asked Dr. Kateh (then in charge of Liberia's medical response to Ebola) what Liberia needed most to fight Ebola. We sent over eight containers of medical supplies, beds and support items to help sustain and rebuild Liberia's shattered health care system during, and after the Ebola Pandemic.
It began with Erica, a brave young woman who refused to die because of where she was born. Her courage and dedication to see it through has changed the face of her entire country's medical future. KBNF will continue to support Liberia, to provide education and training to neurological & neurosurgical staff, to enhance safe surgical practices and help grow health care until Liberia no longer needs the support.
Who is your Erica? Where are they from? This holiday season, give for the people like Erica, who are desperate for surgeries, which will bring them back to wholeness so they too can spend their lives improving their countries and loving their families.
The first leg of the Spring Mission commenced May 21st. Marj Ratel and foundation partner Dr. John Sampson (representing Johns Hopkins Medicine) attended the G4 Alliance Summit in Geneva, Switzerland. Sponsored by General Electric Foundation and Safe Surgery 2030, the 3 day event was held at the Intercontinental Hotel and Conference Centre, across the street from the UN and WHO. A 5 star facility, many of the participants including us stayed in alternative more cost effective accommodation across the city. Daily accommodation costs increased significantly the closer to the annual World Health Assembly meetings. The advantage of the location and time is that meetings with country representatives from Africa and around the world are possible.
The Global Alliance for Surgical, Obstetric, Trauma and Anaesthesia Care (the ‘G4 Alliance’) was formally launched at an event in Geneva attended by government ministers, health advocates and medical specialists in May 2015. The aim of the G4 Alliance is to advocate for the neglected surgical patient, to highlight the vital role of surgical care in averting premature death and significant morbidity from maternal health issues or complications of injury, and to integrate surgical care with existing public health frameworks in a collaborative and mutually beneficial way.
Five billion people around the world are unable to access safe, affordable surgical and anesthesia care when needed, according to the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery report (publicly endorsed by KBNF when released). Out of the 313 procedures performed each year, only 6% are done for the poorest third of the world’s population. For road traffic injury victims, lack of emergency trauma care, safe surgical facilities or rehabilitation services can seriously exacerbate the impact and severity of injuries, while failure to provide care during the ‘Golden Hour’ after a crash often proves fatal. The Lancet Commission’s report argues that “surgery has proven to be a very cost-effective intervention, and failure to treat surgical conditions threatens to significantly compromise the economic productivity of countries. Widespread integration and scale-up of surgical care around the world is necessary to reach new targets for Universal Health Coverage, the Sustainable Development Goals and creation of resilient health systems.”
Responding to the efforts of the G4 Alliance over recent months, as well as to other advocates, health ministers at the World Health Assembly approved Resolution 68/31 on 22 May 2015 which included a call to “identify and prioritize a core set of emergency and essential surgery and anaesthesia services at the primary health care and first referral hospital level, and to develop methods & financing systems for making quality, safe, effective and affordable emergency and essential surgical care and anaesthesia services accessible to all who need it”.
Stay tuned for more to come!