RVU’s Student Doctors Train Haitian Healthcare Providers in Ultrasound Techniques

Codee Champney, OMS IV, and Dan Coates, OMS III, teach diagnostic ultrasound techniques to medical providers in Haiti. Photo by Jason Houston.

During the catastrophic 2010 earthquake, Haiti’s health infrastructure was nearly incapacitated when fifty health centers, a part of Haiti’s primary teaching hospital, and the Ministry of Health were destroyed. Even before the earthquake, Haiti reported some of the worst health indicators in the world. According to the U.S. Agency for International Development, Haiti faces basic healthcare challenges that continue to inhibit its development such as high maternal mortality rates. In addition, a shortage of qualified health professionals and a lack of funding for improving delivery services has hindered the healthcare education of medical personnel.

Enter the NYAGI Project. The NYAGI Project seeks to bring ultrasound off-the-road and empower healthcare workers in impoverished communities to proactively identify life-threatening medical conditions. The program was founded and developed by physiatrist Cliff Gronseth, MD, and is based in Boulder, Colorado. NYAGI, which stands for “Now You Are the Group’s Interest”, is primarily focused on maternal health, providing access to diagnostic imaging which guides pregnant women’s care plans in conjunction with their clinician.

For its third program trip (the first two of which previously took place in Nepal), NYAGI took part in Projet Santé, a USAID-funded $98.5 million healthcare project administered by The Caris Foundation, a Texas-based nonprofit; Catholic Medical Mission Board; and the Haitian Health Foundation. NYAGI also partnered with Universal Diagnostic Solutions, which provided twenty portable ultrasound machines for the trip that were later donated to medical providers in Haiti.

NYAGI Team 3. Photo by Jason Houston.

To make its vision a reality, NYAGI brought together a team of experts that included RVU’s own Codee Champney, OMS IV, and Dan Coates, OMS II. “We were introduced to [Dr. Gronseth] during our time on the RVU Ultrasound Interest Group (USIG) leadership team,” said SD Champney. “We began working with him on ultrasound scanning events and helped coordinate beta testing of his obNAV™ software.” Their keen interest in Point-of-Care ultrasound and ultrasound education made them great candidates for providing expertise and education to Haiti’s medical personnel. 

Made up of 23 healthcare providers, NYAGI Team 3 arrived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on January 27, 2019. SDs Champney and Coates were introduced to the program’s forty doctors, nurses and midwives. Over the course of five days, they provided hands-on training sessions on basic cardiac, musculoskeletal, and emergency ultrasound. Grace Children’s Hospital served as the primary setting for the ultrasound workshops. At the hospital, NYAGI Team 3 organized itself into smaller groups to efficiently teach the eager-to-learn providers how to use the new ultrasound machines while scanning patients. As a result of the program’s teaching methods, over 500 patients were also treated during the training sessions.

SD Coates teaches basic ocular ultrasound to a
 group of physician attendees. Photo by Jason Houston.

It was important to SDs Champney and Coates to work in a setting where they could truly invest in a community to improve care. “It was unlike any other global medical trip either of us had been on in the past,” said SD Coates. “We look for organizations that value building sustainable healthcare for communities by increasing health education and innovation with the people living and working there.”

The NYAGI Project employs a unique approach that combines diagnostic ultrasound technology, a specialized teaching system, and obNAV™ software developed by 7D Imaging (of which Dr. Gronseth is also the founder and CEO). What sets the program apart from others is the use of donated iPads which are retrofitted with the obNAV™ software. The iPads are used as monitors for the ultrasound images and are uploaded with step-by-step information on a variety of health issues to facilitate the diagnostic process. The use of the iPad and software also serves to fulfill the project’s mission of providing continuing education for healthcare workers by connecting them to medical personnel from around the world. This was appealing to SDs Champney and Coates, who said the “hub and spoke” educational model created and promoted by NYAGI helps providers build lasting relationships and ensures that access to care is readily available, not just when a team of specialists is there for a short period of time. “As we educate more healthcare providers, they not only see far more patients and utilize their new knowledge…but they also teach their colleagues and peers, spreading the knowledge even further,” said SD Champney.

SD Champney and other members of NYAGI Team 3. Photo by Jason Houston.  

At the end of the day, both SDs Champney and Coates were thrilled to have found an opportunity that combined their love of ultrasound education and diagnostic ultrasound. Their participation also brought the NYAGI Project one step closer to its goal of teaching diagnostic ultrasound to 10,000 providers using the 7D Imaging’s obNAV™ software. “[SDs Champney and Coates] are truly great representatives for RVU and made a huge impact on our trip,” said Dr. Gronseth. “I’m quite confident their work will save lives.”

About the NYAGI Project:

NYAGI is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to increasing diagnostic ultrasound accessibility and education around the world. NYAGI’s vision is to improve healthcare by using diagnostic ultrasound in areas with limited resources.

About Projet Santé:

Projet Santé is a cooperative agreement between the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Caris Foundation International. The project is led by the Caris Foundation and implemented in partnership with the Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB) and the Haitian Health Foundation (HHF).  The goal of Projet Santé is to increase the number of Haitians who receive quality, essential health care.

About 7D Imaging:

7D Imaging develops ultrasound education solutions featuring high resolution imagery and point-of-care reference guides to accelerate learning and enhance ultrasound use. The goal is to reduce the “steep learning curve” to mastering ultrasound and to help providers scan with greater confidence by providing immediate access to relevant information.

About UDS:

Universal Diagnostic Solutions (UDS) sells new and used ultrasound imaging and other diagnostic medical equipment.

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