The Role of Bias in the Unfolding Ebola Epidemic

As the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia continues to claim lives, the unfolding crisis derives less from the virus and more from inaccurate biases that led to an inadequate response. BWH Chief of the Division of Global Health Equity Paul Farmer and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim present this argument in a Washington Post op-ed entitled “What’s missing in the Ebola fight in West Africa,” published on Aug. 31. Continue reading

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An Interview with Dr. Stuart Mushlin, Medical Director for International Patient Services at BWH


patientServing patients from over 120 countries around the world, the International Patient Center (IPC) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) provides services for patients who choose to come to the United States to receive world-class care. This includes coordinating all aspects of each patient’s visit to the hospital. From managing medical consultations and hospital admissions to travel and hotel arrangements, IPC staff are committed to making international patients and their families feel comfortable during their stay.

Stuart Mushlin, MD, FACP, is the Medical Director for International Patient Services at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). He also serves as a liaison between the BWH IPC ­and Partners HealthCare International® (PHI), the global arm of Partners HealthCare that facilitates access to care for international  patients  who have the ability, both physically and financially, to travel to BWH and other Partners hospitals. Continue reading

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BWFH Palliative Care Consultant teaches foundational course to nurses in the Middle East

Julie Vosit-Steller with GroupIn the United States, palliative care is recognized as an essential component of healthcare. By managing the symptoms of patients with chronic diseases and serious illnesses, palliative care providers help improve quality of life by managing pain or other severe impairments. Palliative care providers assist patients and families in the coordination of care and in the process of making difficult care decisions. They also help foster collaboration within an interdisciplinary medical team. In much of the Middle East, however, the term palliative care is not yet widely recognized in academic literature or integrated in the plan of care for patients with chronic disease or at the end of life.

Recently, a group of five nurse practitioners from the Oncology Nursing Society, supported by a grant from the Nation Cancer Institute, were asked by the Oncology Nursing Society and Middle Eastern Cancer Consortium to travel to Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey to conduct a foundational course in palliative care for nurses from various countries in the Middle East, including Iraq, Iran and Turkey. Among those nurse practitioners was Julie Vosit-Steller, DNP FNP-BC AOCN, from Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital’s Palliative Care Consult Service. Continue reading

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Supporting Premature Infants in Bangladesh

Anne Lee, MD, of BWH’s Department of Pediatrics, has spent the past 5 years working in rural Bangladesh helping train local non-medical community health workers to recognize signs of prematurity in babies born at home, and to strengthen the referral process of these high-risk babies for hospital-based care. Now, she is seeking the support of the BWH community in a funding competition through the “Saving Lives at Birth” program in an effort to continue to build upon their work as her and her team was selected as finalists to compete in Washington DC at the end of July.

Continue reading

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Maternal Health Beyond Hospital Walls

Senegal Ouakam HospitalOne would think the process of delivering a baby would be a universal procedure, with physicians and nurses following the same steps for each patient. However, after traveling to Senegal, BWH’s Rebecca Luckett, MD, MPH, PGY3 resident in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, had the chance to experience firsthand the challenges associated with providing clinical care outside of the United States. In an effort to step outside of her American resident self, Luckett entered a place where she did not have every amenity and test at her fingertips, shifting her outlook and gaining a new perspective on the system in which she would be working.

Continue reading

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Health Care where there are no Roads

Raj Panjabi, of BWH’s Division of Global Health Equity, has set out to make health care more accessible to those living in the world’s most remote villages by reconstructing the model of the Community Health Worker (CHW). Over 1 billion people worldwide go their entire lives without receiving any degree of medical care, and Panjabi recognized the need for an improved health care system that reaches rural communities.

In 2007, Panjabi founded Last Mile Health, an organization dedicated to closing the health care access gap through a redesigned and improved CHW program. By professionalizing CHWs through a stringent 5 step process that involves lengthy training, testing and incentivized salary, Last Mile Health is able to serve remote villages through a knowledgeable and fully equipped workforce that is more efficient and effective than the traditional model. The goal is to achieve universal access to care by 2030, a project that seems daunting but is quite possible if health systems focus on and invest in community health worker performance.

Read more about Last Mile Health in this piece by the Huffington Post.

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Social Worker from Guatemala Visits BWH

Martha Burke, LICSW received a gift from Visiting Scholar Vicky Tojin.

Martha Burke, LICSW received a gift from Visiting Scholar Vicky Tojin.

BWH?s Department of Social Work chose resiliency as their theme this year, so it?s fitting that Social Work and Care Coordination invited Vicky Tojin, a Guatemalan social worker and civil war refugee who embodies the definition of resiliency, to spend a week as a visiting scholar this May. Tojin was born to Mayan parents in Guatemala at the start of the civil war, which would go on to claim over 200,000 lives, mostly Mayan, over a 36 year period. In response, she devoted herself to learning how she could support others in their struggle to heal from trauma. Continue reading

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Partners In Health Receives UNITAID Grant to Revolutionize Access to MDR-TB Treatment

This week, Partners In Health announced a new partnership with UNITAIDDoctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and IRD to revolutionize access to new multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) treatment in 17 countries, especially among the poor.

“We’re grateful for this support from UNITAID, and particularly for their partnership, with which we’re hoping to make diagnosis and treatment of drug-resistant tuberculosis more effective and more tolerable for patients, as well as more readily accessible and lower-cost,” says Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, co-founder of Partners In Health and chief of BWH’s Division of Global Health Equity. “UNITAID has given us a way to use the power of markets to serve the poor, driving down the cost of essential commodities and helping to deliver them to the people who need them most.”

Read more about the UNITAID grant that will make this work possible.

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BWFH Physician Travels to Qatar

Roger Clark, MD, of Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital Infection Control, recently traveled to Qatar to observe and report on the country’s health care system from an infection control standpoint. He was joined by BWH’s Susan Marino, of Infection Control, and Paula Wright, of Massachusetts General Hospital Infection Control.

The trip was sponsored by Partners HealthCare International, whose mission is to enhance the capabilities of health care systems worldwide.

For almost two weeks, Clark and the team went through every unit of Qatar’s two major hospitals to observe, survey and identify strengths and weaknesses, using the CMS Infection Control Checklist as their guide.

“I think we were able to validate that these hospitals in Qatar are doing a good job in the infection control arena,” said Clark, “The level of cleanliness was as good as any hospital I have seen in the United States.”

Clark said the trip to Qatar was an outstanding opportunity to work with true professionals, including his colleagues from BWH and MGH and the faculty and staff of Qatar’s two major hospitals.

After arriving back in the U.S., Clark, Marino and Wright compiled their findings in a final document survey, which was presented to the hospitals’ executive committees for further examination.

Source: BWFH Pulse 

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Global Health Doc Prepares for Boston Marathon


Robert Riviello shares this picture of himself on a training run in Rwanda for the Boston Marathon.

One of BWH’s global health experts, Robert Riviello, MD, MPH, is training for the Boston Marathon while he is in Rwanda this month. This year’s marathon is especially meaningful to Riviello, as he was working in BWH’s Emergency Department when the bombs exploded at last year’s marathon.

He writes:

Soon afterward, I received an email from a physician I work with on my regular travels to Rwanda that simply said, “Be strong.” This doctor, a survivor of genocide who I have teamed with as a part of BWH’s Center for Surgery and Public Health, was now supporting me in my community’s time of need.

It was a moving reminder that, no matter who you are or what your circumstances, you never know when you’ll need support—or when an encouraging word can mean the world to someone else.

That’s why I’m running in this year’s Boston Marathon—to pay tribute to the community who stood strong and supported each other through last year’s tragic events. And with less than three weeks until Marathon Monday, my teammates and I could all use some words of encouragement right about now.

I’m writing to you now from Rwanda, where I’m continuing my work with Dr. Georges Ntakiyiruta, but I’m still doing my marathon training—and it hasn’t been easy. (That’s me in the photo, training solo here.)

Running up Mount Kigali is always worth it for the great view, but to make it up there I have to motivate myself by remembering why I’m doing this: to honor the courage of our patients and the passion of our care teams.

This year’s Boston Marathon means so much to me and my teammates, and I’m sure it does to you, too. Please sign the good luck card and leave a message that BWH will deliver to our team the day before the race:

Please feel free to share the link far and wide!

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