Trade Secrets: Partnership Shares Outreach Blueprint
On the second morning of a recent outreach in Bisidimo, Ethiopia patients are dancing and yelling out with joy as a team of doctors from the USA, Ethiopia and Tanzania make their way through the lines of people eagerly awaiting attention.
One-by-one, bandages from yesterday’s sight-restoring surgeries are removed, and in the end, more than 100 people are cured.
Families of the patients wait around the area, crowding to see their loved ones' reactions as they regain their vision. Behind them, more crowds gather as a new batch of patients navigate the multiple pre-surgery stations, shepherded by eye care teams calmly keeping groups of blind and vision impaired people of all ages organized and pointed to their next stop on their way to the operating room. Soon, they will be tomorrow’s group of cured patients.
Treating hundreds of patients per day at a high-volume surgical outreach event takes considerable coordination and communication by the teams running the campaign and its management is a skill to master, all on its own.
A recent partnership between HCP and Helen Keller Intl has spurred an international collaboration to share the techniques and processes that make running a successful high-volume surgical outreach possible. A team of Tanzanian eye care professionals recently traveled to Ethiopia to shadow an HCP team during an outreach at Bisidimo Hospital, gaining first-hand experience managing an outreach.
“Most of the African countries share many of the same challenges,” Dr. Barnabas Gadi Mshangila, an ophthalmologist from Tanzania said. “African countries have limited resources and many of our people are poor and don’t have access to quality eye services. Having this experience with other countries will teach us new approaches to those challenges.”
Five Tanzanians attended the outreach to work directly with staff from the HCP Ethiopia team and HCP Board Member Dr. Matt Oliva during the week-long outreach. The team of Tanzanians partner with Helen Keller to run outreaches in their home country primarily focused on treating Trachomatous Trichiasis (TT) but want to build capacity to address cataracts at their events. By the end of the campaign, the visiting team felt they had gained new insights to take back home.
“The big thing we have learned is the importance of teamwork,” Noel Edward Massae, an ophthalmic theater nurse, said. “From the starting point with the patients to post-op, everyone has a job to do and has to work together as a team to keep everything moving smoothly.”
The team of Tanzanians will continue to receive support and guidance to develop processes aimed at improving high-volume surgical outreaches in their country, making quality eye care more accessible.