Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pathologists helping in Haiti

Von Samedi is a fellow in our Department of Pathology who has figured out how to allocate some of his time to assist with the rebuilding of the Haitian health care system. This article in the Journal of the American Society of Clinical Pathology documents the work being done by Von and his colleagues. Excerpts:

Near the collapsed presidential palace and the sprawling tent-and-tarp city across the street, sits the diagnostic laboratory at the State University Hospital of Haiti, the largest public hospital in the country. The lab operates under two large white tents shaded by several large trees. Six months after an earthquake brought Haiti to its knees and in the middle of the rainy season, the dirt all around the lab had become mud.

...Everyone knew this assignment for ASCP’s volunteers would not be simple. After all, one of the laboratories is operating under a tent. But more broadly, the laboratories were affected just like everything else here by the Jan. 12 earthquake.... Some laboratory technicians had died, or moved out of Port-au-Prince. Many who remained were living in tents themselves. And Haiti, a country of 9.6 million people, had just 10 pathologists, only three of them clinical pathologists.

...The volunteers produced reports that included recommendations for lab procedures, organizational charts, workflow charts, employee position descriptions, policies for orientation and competency testing, a form and schedule for the preventive maintenance of equipment, and checklists for keeping track of the functions of the lab.

The volunteers also ran safety procedure trainings on topics such as why it’s important to wash hands and what to do if there were a fire or if a technician were punctured.

Other recommendations included streamlining the clinical-order-to-result process to eliminate steps that do not help patients; eliminating interaction among staff and the public; registering tests in the morning and issuing test results in the afternoon; and reducing the amount of time the laboratories hold samples of urine, blood, and stool from seven days to three days.

“The space issues are tremendous,” Dr. Samedi said. “Plus, these samples just become bacterial time bombs.”

1 comment:

Leigh Hamby said...

Many of us in the US quickly forget those in need in Haiti. My son and his friend are trying to do their part by rollerblading across the US to raise money for Haiti. See his friend's blod at www.rollingtorebuild.com

Seems like the kind of thing you could appreciate. Thanks for all you do Paul!