Building on the Relationships at the Heart of HVO’s Work

The partnerships at the heart of HVO’s work are built on years of collaboration and professional exchange. Our projects promote long-lasting relationships among health providers, fostering a global community that serves as a source of strength and resilience.

Though our overseas volunteer placements are on hold due to the ongoing pandemic, we have heard from several HVO volunteers about efforts to continue mentoring and supporting colleagues at HVO project sites. We wanted to share a few examples of how HVO’s global community continues to support health workers, particularly addressing concerns and challenges around COVID-19 outbreaks:

  • When a nursing trainee from HVO’s project site in Uganda contacted us about growing concerns around COVID-19 and how to properly protect nursing staff, HVO nursing education volunteers responded with information and resources for her to access.
  • Internal medicine volunteer Dr. George Pantely and pediatrics volunteer Dr. Mark Duster have reached out to current and former residents and colleagues at the sites where they have worked, offering support and advice for patient cases and shifting health priorities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Trenton Harper began a six-month placement in Bhutan in January 2020 through the Feinberg Fellowship. Mr. Harper is collaborating with the Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences and National Referral Hospital in Thimphu on their Emergency Medicine Responder (EMR) training program, launched in 2017, assisting with field training of the students in their second and third years of training. Ensconced in Bhutan prior to COVID-19 reaching pandemic status, Mr. Harper has chosen to fulfill his six-month placement, supporting Bhutan’s health providers and preparing to resume EMR training when safely able to do so.
  • Beginning in December 2019, Dr. Lisa Trujillo, traveled to Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE (SHCH) in Cambodia as a Fulbright scholar working with HVO. She partnered with the nursing and physician staff at SHCH to improve respiratory care at the hospital and conducted a second visit in late-February 2020. With the threat of COVID-19 constantly in the news, much of Dr. Trujillo’s second visit addressed working on mechanical ventilation, CO2 monitoring, airway clearance and endotracheal suctioning of intubated patients. While these are all skills that are important for respiratory issues in general, they will be particularly important if COVID-19 patients are treated at the hospital. Read more about Dr. Trujillo’s work in a previous blog post.

Additionally, HVO has created a place on our website to share trusted resources about COVID-19 and encouraged our partners to reach out with their specific questions, concerns, or training/mentoring needs related to the ongoing pandemic. We have also encouraged our volunteers and members to continue outreach to colleagues overseas to maintain professional connections because, in times like these, sometimes sharing concerns and fears with a peer is support that is greatly needed.

HVO’s focus on educating and supporting health care workers is vital now and will continue to be critical in the years to come. There is a deep, long-term impact from the education, training and professional collaboration that occurs through HVO. Building health systems and health worker capacity requires continuous effort with each successive generation of health care providers possessing new and improved skills based on the latest available science.

In addition to reports from our volunteers and outreach directly from our overseas partners, we’ve seen news of the ongoing work of our partner institutions and colleagues as they prepare for and address the COVID-19 pandemic in their countries. Here are a few of the stories we’ve come across:

Our partners around the world show us time and again what a profound role health workers play – and how they are willing to step up to serve and lead in the most challenging of circumstances.

At HVO, we are committed to working with our partners to strengthen the breadth and depth of health systems. We know that, ultimately, this work contributes to better health for all. We are a global community, and we are in this together.

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