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EqualHealth News


Reflections from the Field: A Visiting Professor shares her story

Casey Fox

Dr. Christina Maxis recently traveled to the University Hospital of Mirebalais to give a training on laparoscopy. Dr. Maxis shares her reflections below:

I was not born Haiti, but growing up I always desired the opportunity to ‘give back’ to the country my family originated.  Driven by this ambition, I have had the opportunity over the years to work with many different organizations throughout Haiti.  These experiences in collaboration with my education and training did satisfy that desire, but have also shaped and cultivated my ongoing goal and desired impact within global health.  I learned that participating in intermittent short term projects wasn’t enough anymore.  I wondered, what was the best way that I, a physician, with a full time job and responsibilities can have real impact in Haiti.

Working with Equal health has given me the opportunity to do just that; Make a real and palpable impact.  The feeling which I experienced in my most recent trip to Haiti as part of the Equal Health Visiting Professor program I can honestly say, has been a first.  The ability to use what I have learned throughout my education and training to provide continuing education to my colleagues in Haiti is nothing short of extraordinary. 

My work with EqualHealth and HUM has revolved around Laparoscopy training.  Laparoscopy is a surgical skill now standard of care for many gynecologic conditions in countries like the United States.  The benefit of Laparoscopy includes improved surgical outcomes, decreased hospital stay and surgical morbidity.  Laparoscopy is not available to the majority of women in Haiti.  Hopital Universitaire de Mirebalais has the capability to perform Laparoscopic procedures, but most Gynecologists in Haiti have not received training in Laparoscopy.  HUM realized their capability in Laparoscopy as well as the potential for positive impact for their patient population. 

Although not traditionally thought of as an important in the realm of Global health, our team quickly realized its utility during our first clinical application trip in for Laparoscopic training.  On the second day of our VP week, a woman who traveled from Cite Soleil to Mirebalais presented with symptoms concerning for a ruptured ectopic pregnancy.  Knowing that our team was there that week, we were asked if we felt this was appropriate patient to proceed with Laparoscopy.  Ordinarily, this patient would have had a large abdominal incision to treat her ectopic pregnancy.  We evaluated the patient and completed the procedure- which was challenging- laparoscopically.  The patient went home the next morning.  At the end of that day we all felt a sense of pride.  That feeling was best summed by Dr. Milien, the Chief of OBGYN during our debrief who expressed the impact of that particular case stating: the ability to provide laparoscopy, a standard of care around the world, to this women who traveled from far to come to HUM to be treated left me emotional and proud!"

The Visiting Professor Program allows for continuing education, cross country collaboration among colleagues, bi-directional educational and experience and most importantly ultimately leading to improved patient care.