Preparing the Next Generation of Global Health Champions

Preparing the next generation of global health champions
Dr. Marc de Moya (at left in sunglasses) and healthcare colleagues in Cuba, circa 2016.

Marc de Moya, MD, professor of surgery and division chief of trauma and acute care surgery at MCW, has forged connections across the world in support of global efforts to improve care in trauma centers. Among the locales in which he has developed and nurtured partnerships is Cuba, where he currently supports two projects that examine the emergency room culture at Calixto-Garcia Hospital in Havana. It’s an effort he and others hope will improve health outcomes globally, especially in low-resource countries.

“Growing and developing long-term partnerships is an important part of what we do at MCW as a member of the global community, as well as a key component of academic medicine,” says Dr. de Moya, who also is the Milton and Lidy Lunda/Charles Aprahamian Professor of Trauma Surgery at MCW.

The Cuban research projects are being led by MCW medical students who are participants in the school’s Dr. Elaine Kohler Summer Academy of Global Health Research Program, for which Dr. de Moya serves as a mentor. This unique program (named for Elaine Kohler, MD, FEL ’68, MCW associate professor of pediatrics from 1968-1981) encourages talented rising
second-year medical students to enter the global health field. Over the course of the summer, students split their research experience addressing health disparities in Milwaukee and internationally with the faculty’s global collaborators.

MCW medical student Celeste Pain is one of these scholars. Her research project focuses on integrating new technology in the emergency room to assist in trauma resuscitation. She is working to help staff implement technology created by T6 Health Systems, which developed medical systems that collect and analyze clinical data in real time. The system also helps healthcare facilities create standardized trauma protocols and provide prompts for decision-making to help guide the team.

“The technology is helping to create a digital registry and to do more research on how timing plays into outcomes and what interventions lead to better outcomes,” Pain says. The goal is to improve health outcomes in the emergency room, she adds.

“We’re introducing a new technology in a low-resource place, but also figuring out how to best improve the resuscitation strategies using the resources that they have,” Dr. de Moya notes. Testing of that platform has been conducted in South Africa, Guatemala and elsewhere, but the hope is that by teaching the process in Cuba, which sends 36,000 healthcare workers abroad each year, the lessons learned could be applied across the globe.

Pain says that prior to this project, she didn’t have much research experience, but she had a passion for global health and the Spanish language – having worked in an emergency department in San Francisco’s Mission District and at a rural clinic in Guatemala. She also coordinated a clinic for a nonprofit in Tijuana, Mexico, that works with refugees seeking asylum.

A second project supported by Dr. de Moya is working to improve the operating room culture of safety by improving communication and collaboration across disciplines. A first goal is to translate a particular training platform into Spanish, then to work with local nursing and surgeon champions to help develop a curriculum and implement a pilot of the program in Ecuador and Panama before using it in Cuba.

Dr. de Moya greatly appreciates the enthusiasm, energy and ideas that students have brought to the projects. He also takes seriously his responsibility to support those who will succeed the current champions of global health.

“These are the leaders of the future…and the work is important and needs to be sustainable. Cultivating their interest in global health is a really important part of being in a global community.”

– MCW Magazine Staff

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