Africa Outreach: Surgeries, Education, and Constructing a Telemedicine Room

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Right now, members of our Cardiology team are in Uganda providing treatment to children with heart disease, as well as training and education for Ugandan healthcare workers. The teams, led by Cardiologist Craig Sable, MD, have been helping children abroad for 15 years. Team members will be posting updates from the field on our blog. Our third post is from Cabrina Cacioppo, RN, a nurse in our Cardiac ICU.

Last Saturday, we finished up a week of cardiac catheterizations with a total of 16 cases! We performed diagnostic procedures, device patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) closures, and two balloon pulmonary valvuloplasties. The children recovered well and overall the week was a great success!

Surgical Week

Surgeries started on Monday and goes through Friday. Usually, we do two surgeries a day depending on time and how things go, but today we did three! A new record! We’ve had a lot of power and internet issues over the past few days and weren’t able to do surgeries yesterday due to the back up generator not working in the operating room, but at this pace, we’ll make up those cases in no time.

ECHO Clinic and Telemedicine

Other amazing things that have been happening this week are routine transthorasic echocardiography (ECHO) clinic and the construction of a telemedicine room.

ECHO clinic opens early everyday around 7:30 am and the line is already out the door when it opens. Families who have been referred from all over and from different villages come to have their children checked for heart disease. Craig Sable, MD, and some of the cardiology fellows from Children’s National are working very hard each day to not only perform echos on these children, but to educate their families on heart disease and get these kids entered into the system for surgical or interventional radiology follow up.

The telemedicine room is in the process of being set up and will be a huge asset to the program once it is completed. Ideally, it will allow our team of surgeons, cardiologists, interventional radiologists, nurses, and others back at Children’s National to conference call or video in when the Ugandan team is doing surgery, a catheterization procedure, or even just conducing a meeting. This connection is the beauty of telemedicine. So potentially a surgeon in Washington, DC could be assisting with a surgery in Uganda, in real-time.

Overall, it’s been an unbelievable week and time is just flying by. I can’t wait to get back at it tomorrow!


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