HANDS Suspended 2020 Trip
For the past several months we have been witnessing the impact of COVID-19 pandemic around the world. Due to this pandemic HANDS team made a decision to temporarily suspend all travel plan to Ethiopia. We would like to thank the volunteers, Andrea Beckhan and Bianca Canady, who are NICU nurses for their continuous support and hope they will join Dr. Mesfin Woldesenbet, founder of HANDS on future medical mission trip to Ethiopia.
Vital Medical Supplies Shipment Delivered
The disruption caused by COVID-19 pandemic did not prevent HANDS team from working hard to make a difference from a distance. On August 13, 2020 HANDS sent about $2,300 US dollars' worth of NK 95 protective masks and protective surgical masks to Hawassa Comprehensive Specialized Hospital.
During this pandemic, these masks are vital to protect the neonatal ICU and the pediatrics/adult critical care unit medical staff.
HANDS team continues working on collecting additional vital PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment) such as face masks and face shields to send to Ethiopia.
HANDS would like to thank you for your generous donations that made it possible for these vital supplies' shipment.
We believe strongly that the involvement of multiple organizations comprised of a variety of specialties or professions, both medical and non-medical, are needed to address these issues. This will require the involvement of local Ethiopian professionals and orchestration by the Ethiopian Ministry of Health. We are in dire need for neonatologists who will lead teams and are willing to travel to Ethiopia. A team comprises of a neonatologist, neonatal nurse, and respiratory therapist.
We hope the above newsletter will trigger thought and discussion among individuals and organizations residing in the developed world. We are willing to work with local Ethiopian professionals towards the common goal of upgrading neonatal care in Ethiopia through the exchange of combined knowledge and experiences.
You Can Help
Would you like to get involved with HANDS by volunteering your time and talents? We have volunteer opportunities for skilled, talented and dedicated people in the following areas:
To volunteer or make a donation, please contact us at:
Horn of Africa Neonatal Development Services, Inc.
16501 Shady Grove Road
PO Box 10002
Gaithersburg, MD 20898
Karen Longenecker, RRT (L) and Pam Null, RN(R)
In my two week experience I can hope that the best possible care will be provided by a compassionate, caring staff, but they are limited to the facility, equipment and supplies at their disposal: water drawn from a 55 gallon drum with an old coffee pot. There is no point in training mothers in procedures, such as bottle-feeding, since compliance will be out of the question. Sterilization is so far off that one does not know where to begin, but just remember that virtually everything is potentially reusable. At least there is a better chance that in a hospital the equipment will be cleaned properly. If we can train one unit on neonatal care, it would be like a pebble dropped in a pond where the ripple effect would grow and spread throughout the country.
The point is not to be critical, rather to hopefully open your eyes. There is a huge need for those who feel compelled to do something. Simply, I see that I cannot change the world, but Karen (Longenecker) and I have found that there are a few small things that we can do to help a single facility.
We know that that would make an enormous impact on improving the chances that would directly support the neonatal caregivers at Jimma University Hospital, and those whom they serve. “We can change the world one thought at a time, one baby at a time, one family at a time, one community at a time, one city, one state and one country at a time. And the time is NOW!”
– Pamela Null, R.N.
Our recent trip to update the nursery at Jimma University Hospital helped to put my life into perspective. The staff and students there were gracious and eager to learn. The accomplishments they achieve in spite of the deplorable conditions are tremendous. They are educated, but lack the resources and equipment to improve their hospital outcomes.
There was no running water for eight of the fourteen days we were there. The hospital fills barrels with water when they are able, and the staff uses a pitcher to dip it out as the day progresses. They heat water for infant baths in an old coffee pot. There are no screens in the windows, which need to be open due to the heat and stale air. Spiders and mosquitoes climb the walls next to patient beds.
The hardest part for me was the total demise count while we were there. Seven infants expired in two weeks. Two would have passed in any country, but the other five were preventable deaths. Meconium aspiration can be prevented with additional teaching and supplies. Losing a 1000 gram 28 week infant after two weeks of living is preventable. But the worst one was when they had to send a two month old girl home who needed oxygen while asleep, and orogastric feedings to grow. She had a cleft palate, which is an easy repair in many countries. They can do the surgery about seven hours away, but the logistics for moving her were too great. Due to the lack of cleft palate nipples or spoons, this child is most likely already gone.
A Nobel laureate poet once wrote:
I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy.
Would I go back? In a heartbeat. We are sending more stethoscopes and scrubs as we are able. The HANDS group is trying to send more expensive equipment, such as ventilators and isolettes. Please join us in helping to save a child.
- Karen Longenecker, RRT, Kaiser, Roseville, CA
HANDS has launched its year end campaign to show its progress and generate enough funding for 2018 activities. Generous donors like you are the key to our success and make it possible for HANDS to provide critical medical care that saves many vulnerable lives. Click here for more information, or click on the donate button below to make your tax deductible contribution.