News: New Horizons participates in health care information exchange
Story by Capt. Holly Hess
LADYVILLE, Belize – Members of New Horizons partnered with Project HOPE and the American Academy of Family Physicians to establish an Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics exchange with health care providers in Dangriga, Belize May 21 and 22.
The ALSO program is designed to help physicians, midwives, labor and delivery nurses, and other health care providers develop and maintain the knowledge and skills needed to manage potential emergencies during the perinatal period.
“So anytime a mommy is having an emergency in birth, there is a lot of things that can happen,” said Air Force Major (Dr.) Patrick Keller, preventative medicine physician from Lackland Air Force Base. “Understanding how to spot these problems, and understanding how to respond to them appropriately in multiple settings, is what [the program] is all about.”
This engagement was designed for providers and physicians to share information on how they deal with obstetric emergencies.
“We are sitting in the same room with providers at different levels of care from all over the country and really talking with them,” said Air Force Major (Dr.) Brian Neese, international health specialist from 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern).
Neese also said they are sharing a dialogue to discuss what Belizean providers and their health system do when faced with a difficult labor or obstetrical emergency.
“For Belize…a lot of these midwives particularly could be out in the middle of nowhere and have to respond to obstetric emergencies,” said Keller. “They have to make decisions very fast.”
This is a systematic way to engage everybody to think and act as a team, said Keller.
“Often times the obstetrician or general practice [doctor] will be starting to do something, and the nurse midwife or even the nurse assistant can call out and say, ‘Look, I am uncomfortable with that. Did you notice [this],’” said Keller. “Having the confidence in your own academics, as any level of provider … is really important.”
According to Holly Kirkland-Walsh, family nurse practitioner with Project HOPE, one of the biggest problems in developing nations worldwide is obesity. Because of this, there are certain complications with child birth.
“They have big babies,” she said. “When you have a big baby, what happens when the baby is being born, is the shoulders get stuck.”
During the exchange, the team discussed what to do if that situation happens while they are delivering a baby. Additionally, they exchanged information on various pitfalls that occur during different stages of labor, using different technologies to monitor the baby, and complications that may occur after birth.
“So what we are trying to promote is [them going] into their community and teach[ing] the traditional birth attendants,” said Kirkland-Walsh.
“It is more than valuable,” said Felicia Mgbeahuluike, a midwife participating in the program. “The shoulder dystocia is a lot of maneuvers that you really need to practice and get that good technique. So it is really, really helpful to me.”
The event is a civilian-military collaboration building partner-nation capacity in maternal health and obstetrical care, said Neese.
“What we have in the end is a very, very relevant health engagement. It is a medical exchange meeting Belizean needs and realities. That means it will be well received by the host nation,” said Neese. “They can turn around now and see real patient care improvements throughout the country.”
Approximately 30 Belizean doctors, nurses and midwives, seven U.S. Air Force medical personnel, and five Project HOPE volunteers partnered together to carry out this health engagement.
New Horizons is a U.S. Southern Command exercise that gives U.S., Canadian and Belizean personnel an opportunity to train jointly in an exercise setting in order to be prepared to meet future challenges. Personnel are providing medical and dental care, as well as constructing four educational buildings throughout Belize as part of the training.