HANDS for Babies: September 2013 Update

HANDS Medical Volunteers June 2013A team of HANDS medical volunteers visited Jimma University Hospital (JU) in June, 2013, to deliver needed supplies, equipment and training to the JU staff. Dr. Arebu Abdu, together with Karen Longenecker (a respiratory therapist) and Pamela Null (a neonatal nurse), spent two weeks in the pediatric department of the hospital.

The team was pleased to observe that the medical supplies and equipments donated by the volunteer team that visited in April were still being used. The pulse oximeters (which detect heart rate and blood oxygen saturation), and the Bubble CPAP (that supports spontaneous breathing in premature babies) were being utilized effectively to save many helpless lives.

During the June 2013 mission trip, Dr. Arebu’s team:

1. Provided cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training to more than 150 hospital medical students, pediatrics residents, and nursing staff.

The Baby CPR Manikins donated by the current and previous team were used with great enthusiasm during this training.

Dr. Arebu Abdu teaches intubation skillsOne of the leading causes of death in neonates is “Meconium Aspiration”. The team witnessed four such deaths during their two-week visit, all of which could have been easily prevented. Meconium aspiration occurs when an infant passes meconium (baby’s stool the first couple of days of life) just prior to delivery and the meconium fluid is sucked in and plugs the airway of the babies. Babies can easily survive this condition when a breathing tube is placed in the baby’s trachea (a process known as intubation) and the meconium fluid is sucked out of the airway.

Pediatric Resident successfully intubates Baby Manikin We believe that the training that the volunteer team provided in June will help prevent future neonate deaths. HANDS volunteers will continue to monitor the hospital staff’s progress and performance in this area.

2. Introduced a detailed and standardized guideline on how to assess newborns using the “S.T.A.B.L.E.” protocol

The protocol variables included: (S) sugar and safe care, (T) temperature, (A) airway assessment,  (B) Blood pressure, ( L) laboratory studies, (E) emotional support.

Pamela Null, RN, demonstrates airway management to pediatric residents at Jimma University Hospital EthiopiaMore than 50 pediatric nurses attended theoretical training in Airway Management. Unfortunately, our volunteer team was not able to deliver practical training due to lack of resources such as blood pressure apparatus and various lab equipment. The HANDS team was glad to have recognized this deficiency and have added these resources to our “priority wish list of equipment” to focus on when approaching equipment donors.

We hope to obtain donations of the equipment needed before our next trip so we can complete the training we initiated in June.

3. Improved communication with the aid of Walkie-Talkies

Karen Longenecker, RRT, demonstrates walkie talkies at Jimma University Hospital EthiopiaThe HANDS medical team observed significant communication failure between the delivery room staff and the neonatal staff. A quick response is always needed in the delivery room or when a newborn infant is in distress in the nursery. The introduction of the Walkie-Talkies significantly improved the response time.

The challenges to deliver basic standard neonatal care in a facility with limited resources may be overwhelming but the team’s efforts and contributions were recognized and appreciated by the staff and the many parents who often have to bear the loss.

Pamella Null’s (RN) eagerness to return to Jimma was refreshing to the JU staff. She believes a life-long friendship has been established. She plans (with colleagues at her workplace) to regularly send small family packs with essential supplies.

Karen’s testimonial also puts a life altering journey into perspective.

Future Goals

We are heartened and gratified to see the tremendous progress that has been made by the staff at JU and the Ministry of health of Ethiopia to improve neonatal health care. We look forward to fulfilling our ultimate goal of fully and adequately equipping Jimma University Hospital with all essential oro-gastric feeding tubes, pumps to deliver intravenous and enteral nutrition, respiratory and laboratory equipments, which remain in short supply.

We therefore continue to seek donations that will help us acquire essential equipments and fund the travel costs for our volunteers get to these hospitals to provide the much required training and equipment to save the lives of infants. We need to continue to put our hands together for our babies.


We would like to acknowledge:

Ethiopian AirlinesEthiopian Airlines again for allowing us to ship our second cargo of medical supplies through its Humanitarian relief Flight HDF in collaboration with Boeing.

The NICU staff at Kaiser Permanente, Roseville, California. The Kaiser Permanente staff has embraced our mission in good faith and is making every effort to bring changes to the delivery of care in the Pediatric department at JU.

HANDS Awareness Day October 5, 2013

HANDS Awareness Day October 5, 2013
Awareness Day on October 5th, 2013 at Merkamo Restaurant, in Springfield, Virginia. The goal is to reach out to our friends, colleagues, and supporters to raise awareness of the current neonatal status in Ethiopia. Details of the Awareness Day program will be posted on HandsforBabies.org and our Facebook page.

RSVP to: Yemi Mulugeta, yemisrach_mulugeta@yahoo.com, or
Mimi Kebede, mimik33@yahoo.com

For more information

Please visit our website, HandsforBabies.org and our Facebook page for ongoing updates.

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