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Volunteer Spotlight: Pamela Cole, PT, CWS Builds Relationships to Improve Global Wound Care

Pamela Cole, PT, CWS believes in building relationships to improve global health. As she noted in a recent interview, “Building relationships is where it’s really at.”

Ms. Cole, a 2018 HVO Golden Apple Award honoree, first traveled to HVO’s wound project at Hôpital Albert Schweitzer (HAS) in Deschapelles, Haiti in 2013. She has visited the site nearly every year since, and became project director in 2014. According to Ms. Cole, a big part of building relationships is showing up.

“Going back a second and a third time and fourth time, [overseas partners] know I care enough to consistently come back or that [HVO] cared enough to consistently send people.” She says this builds trust and, ultimately, leads to the most productive exchanges of information.

“It’s these relationships where [local providers] learn to trust you, and that is what creates actual change.” She notes that, in addition to building trust, these relationships ensure respectful exchanges of information. In turn, these exchanges strengthen the knowledge and skills of wound care providers in Haiti.

One such exchange included the development of a five-year plan to grow the practice of wound care at HAS.

“It was in partnership with them,” explained Ms. Cole. “We sat down with the medical director and the nurse in charge of education. We created a plan to grow wound care practice there.”

Ms. Cole noted that as the needs of the site evolved, so too did the plan: “It was a fluid collaboration. We didn’t have to strictly adhere to it, but rather, we wanted to be fluid based on what their [training] needs were.”

As noted in her HVO Golden Apple nomination, Ms. Cole’s work with HAS demonstrates her commitment to relevant and practical education and her profound dedication to improving the lives of the Haitian people. Her colleagues have noted her persistence and drive, highlighting her effective use of time and resources at the site, and her ongoing pursuit of new opportunities to meet the changing needs of staff at HAS.

Ms. Cole is a physical therapist and clinical specialist at the Methodist Hospital Wound Clinic in St. Louis Park, Minnesota and associate faculty at the University of MN Twin Cities and the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth. She is a certified Clinical Wound Specialist and received her master’s degree in physical therapy from Boston University. She is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Wound Care. In addition to her service in Haiti, Ms. Cole has served HVO as a steering committee member.

This week is the seventh annual World Health Worker Week (#WHWWeek), which culminates in World Health Day, Sunday, April 7. In observance of the global day of awareness and celebration of health workers, HVO will announce the 2019 Golden Apple Awardees. We look forward to continuing this annual celebration honoring those who work tirelessly to realize our vision of a world where all people have access to quality health care delivered by local health professionals. Learn more about the HVO Golden Apple award.

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