The Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital Authority (KHMHA) in Belize is the only tertiary hospital in the country and serves as the country’s referral center. In February 2016, at the request of KHMHA, Baylor & Texas Children’s Hospital began a partnership to help improve the quality of care provided to pediatric patients in the KHMHA Accident and Emergency Department. The program has two components: improving pediatric triage and providing education on pediatric emergency medicine (PEM) topics for A&E staff.
In regards to the PEM topics component, as of February 2016, we have had held 3 separate weeklong educational sessions (lectures, simulations, skill stations), teaching over 60 health care professionals about asthma, pneumonia, sickle cell disease, dehydration, malnutrition and other topics in a pediatric emergency context. Our work has been well received and qualitatively has changed practice for many providers. Our goal is to continue to provide these capacity building sessions to improve pediatric care for patients in Belize. Additionally, we are working closely with healthcare professionals and the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Belize to standardize plans of care for the most commonly treated pediatric diseases.
Beneficiaries include not only the healthcare providers in Belize and the Ministry of Health of Belize but most importantly, the pediatric patients in Belize. Belize has a less than 5 year old mortality rate of 17.8/1000 live births. The MOH and KHMHA are dedicated to improving this number.
With increased capacity and knowledge of appropriate care for children, we expect to see decreased transfers from outlying regions to the main hospital and decreased admissions to inpatient wards which hopefully translates to decreased health care expenditures for a financially stressed system. Most importantly, we expect improved outcomes for pediatric patients and improved self-confidence in health care providers.
With each teaching, we provide our colleagues with copies of our lecture materials. They are able to continue to teach new staff, medical students, and nurses so the learning is not limited to those who were physically present for the course.
For the last 3 years, my colleagues (Adeola Kosoko and Joy Mackey) and I have been working on a project to improve pediatric emergency medicine in Belize. Part of this has been to create a pediatric emergency medicine curriculum for the nurses and physicians working in the Accident and Emergency Department at the only tertiary hospital in Belize.
This is our 5th of 6th installment of a 2 year curriculum. As always, we were greeted warmly by our Belizean colleagues. They are always ready and enthusiastic learners. At the end of each lecture day, we were always thanked for the knowledge. Although there are resource limitations, our lectures help our colleagues to develop new ways of working with the resources they do have. It is always inspiring.