Belize Medical Team Visits Wheaton Emergency Departments
A delegation from Belize, including physicians, nurses and an emergency medical technician, spent two weeks in July at Wheaton Franciscan - St. Joseph, Elmbrook Memorial and Wauwatosa Campuses. The team attended lectures, observed medical staff, and got hands on mentoring. Their visit is part of the Belize Emergency Medicine Development Program. Dr. Mark Bruce DO, FACEP, an Emergency Department physician at Elmbrook Memorial and Wisconsin Heart Hospital Campuses has been working to improve health care in Belize for more than 15 years. His role as the Belize Ambassador for the American College of Emergency Physicians has focused on improving emergency care and disaster preparedness.
Over the past four years Dr. Bruce has worked with leadership in Belize to develop a two-year curriculum in emergency medicine with the goal of elevating it to a specialty. Dr. Bruce, along with other volunteers, observes the Belize team and learns what’s most important to them. That team from Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, the largest hospital in Belize, then comes to Wheaton to shadow staff and learn how to incorporate best practices into their environment.
“We don’t have emergency physicians in Belize. This partnership helps everyone in my country because so many citizens benefit from the improvements we learn here,” said Dr. Marta Habet.
“Looking at all the problems and challenges in Belize can seem overwhelming. You start improving things by identifying people to train and empowering them with knowledge,” said Dr. Bruce.
The visiting team will bring back what they’ve learned at Wheaton and share that knowledge with staff in Belize. Bob Obligato, a nurse from Belize, said, “It’s been so interesting to see how the staff here introduces themselves to patients; we don’t do that in Belize. I can see now how important that is.”
Christine Feierstein, RN, BSN, CEN, Clinical Development Coordinator for the Emergency Departments at Wheaton Franciscan - Bluemound, Elmbrook Memorial and Wauwatosa Campuses said she has seen improvements in emergency care over her past seven visits to Belize, “It’s baby steps, but even small positive changes can make an impact. I have such passion for the country of Belize and its people. I plan on going back to help whenever I can.”
Dr. Bruce agrees emergency care is slowly improving in Belize, “We don’t presume to have all the answers. We ask the right questions and really listen to the answers. Our focus is sustainability so they’re not dependent on us. That’s why we focus on training the trainers, so they can continue to educate without us.”
Everyone involved is pleased with the progress that has been made so far, but realizes there is much work to be done. The lack of technology and resources in Belize continues to be a challenge. Wheaton has donated some retired defibrillators and CPR equipment to Karl Heusner Hospital and the relationship will continue with Dr. Bruce and a team from Wheaton planning another trip to Belize in January 2015.
Learn more about emergency care and services at Wheaton.