SLISS now an Approved Global Surgery Elective for Lewis Katz School of Medicine
The best medical schools in the United States have recognized the tremendous need of assisting developing nations in improving the quality of, and access to, health care. To help address this issue, the next generation of medical professionals must be exposed to this need early in their education and professional careers. Global medicine electives which are well supervised and offer educational and service opportunities are in great demand by medical schools. After great consideration, the curriculum committee of The Lewis katz School of Medicine Temple University has approved the SLISS program as a Global Surgery Elective for their fourth year medical students. Starting in September of 2016, a fourth year medical student who is interested in a career in surgery will be offered to accompany each surgical team traveling to Cameroon, Africa. As the SLISS program grows, hopefully students interested in other specialties will also be able to participate.
SLISS Assisting an Orphanage!
The Agape Foundation is an orphanage for boys located in the Adamawa Region of northern Cameroon. Sanda Guiani, the founder and director of the Foundation, provides food, housing, clothing and schooling for those in his care. If this orphanage did not exist, these boys would be left homeless and starving.
Mr. Guiani is also an artist and raises money for the orphanage by selling his paintings. The SLISS program purchases these canvases which are then mounted and framed. Accompanying each painting is a photo of the artist with the canvas as well as a letter of authenticity. All proceeds from the sale of these original paintings go to the SLISS program and the Agape Foundation.
To date, the profits from previous sales have supplied over $300 to the Agape Foundation. This was enough to pay for all of the cement in the construction of their new building. Thank you for your support of SLISS and the Agape Foundation.
St. Luke’s Donates Ambulance to
Mbingo Baptist Hospital in Africa
A St. Luke’s University Health Network ambulance will soon be traveling far beyond its typical service area transporting patients in an unlikely area – near the equator in Africa.
St. Luke’s is donating the ambulance to Mbingo Baptist Hospital (MBH) in the northwest region of Cameroon. Since Spring 2014, the St. Luke’s International Surgical Studies Program (SLISS), has partnered with the Cameroon Hospital to improve access and quality of health care for nearby villagers while also providing St. Luke’s surgical residents with a rewarding and eye-opening international medical experience. The partnership was the brainchild of Dr. Richard P. Sharpe, who leads the SLISS program and has escorted five groups to the third-world country for one-month stays. Besides Dr. Sharpe, a total of seven residents and four attending physicians have made the trip.
“The donation of this ambulance is very significant,” Dr. Sharpe said. “The hospital has never had an ambulance before and will use it primarily to transport very ill patients to another hospital for a CAT scan because MBH does not have its own scanner. The ambulance will be involved in saving lives because a lot of very sick people will get the studies they need.”
In Cameroon, few people have cars. “If you’re rich, you have a motorcycle,” he said. “If you’re very rich you have a car. It’s not uncommon for a patient who is very ill to take two days getting to the hospital through a combination of walking and hitchhiking.”
The hospital resembles a United States hospital of 40 or 50 years ago, he said, with large open wards for men, women and children. They have windows that close but are left open because while temperatures hover in the 80s, there is no air conditioning. The hospital lacks modern technology and ancillary services such as a radiologist and CAT scanner, surgical specialists, and respiratory therapy. And MBH has only rudimentary laboratory capability. Fees also resemble days past with a simple hernia operation costing about $7. Even so, with no insurance and extreme poverty, patients who have no money are happy to work off their hospital bills.
Mbingo Baptist Hospital is one of only three tertiary referral hospitals in Cameroon and the only faith-based one. With more than 300 beds, MBH surgeons perform more than 6,000 major and 4,000 minor surgeries a year, Dr. Sharpe said, even more than St. Luke’s University Hospital–Bethlehem Campus. The combination of large surgical volume, lack of support services and the fact that patients often appear with illnesses and conditions in advance stages provides residents with a challenging and rewarding medical experience.
“Residents get to see their value as surgeons,” Dr. Sharpe said. “They have a great impact in Cameroon – even bigger than they have in the U.S. They treat extremely ill patients in an austere setting where medical supplies are limited and ancillary support services are non-existent.”
While in Cameroon, the St. Luke’s physicians work side by side with their African counterparts in an ongoing exchange of training and experiences. Only fourth year residents travel to Cameroon and because they are already experienced in many advanced procedures, they help teach first year African residents. Permanent staff and St. Luke’s visitors learn much from each other.
Supplies Sent to Mbingo Baptist Hospital
Every 2 to 3 months, general surgery residents meet at the St. Luke’s Distribution Center in Bethlehem, PA. Over several hours, they comb through numerous pallets of supplies which are set aside for donation to developing nations. Items which are specifically needed by the Mbingo Baptist Hospital (MBH), in Cameroon, Africa, are selected and packaged for shipment.
The residents are also accompanied by Dr. Richard Sharpe, Director of St. Luke’s International Surgical Studies (SLISS). One of the goals of the SLISS program is to provide supplies, equipment and visiting medical professionals to partner facilities in developing countries and assist them with sustained improvements in care.
When the supplies finally arrived at MBH, Dr. James Brown, a general surgeon at MBH, sent this email:
“…I really want to thank you for is the shipment that you initiated from St. Luke’s Hospital almost a year ago that recently arrived in our container. It has taken me days to go through these items and in all my years in Africa I have never received a shipment of more valuable supplies and equipment than what you sent…Many of these items we cannot buy in country, but are essential to our training program and to doing some of the complicated surgeries we are now doing.
I cannot thank you enough…”
Most sincerely and gratefully yours, Jim