Lisa and Lauren began their first project in 2018, where they traveled to Uganda and lived in the village of Lugazi. They worked at Kawolo Hospital in the newly constructed Emergency Department. Kawolo Hospital is a 106-bed hospital that handles a significant number of road traffic injuries that occur on the Kampala-Jinja Highway. According to WHO’s Global status report on road safety 2018, road traffic crashes resulted in 12,036 deaths in 2016 in Uganda. The WHO also identifies the following major health issues in Uganda: neonatal disorders with 18.7 deaths per 1,000 live births, HIV/AIDS, which affect more than 1.4 million people, malaria with an incidence level of 281 per 1,000 individuals and Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) with 375 deaths per 100,000 live births.
For the two months they were there, they worked alongside the local nurses and doctors to care for and treat the people from the village. Working in the emergency department, they would often find themselves in emergent situations without enough medical supplies or equipment needed in order to properly care for the patients coming through the door. There were even instances of cardiac arrest, in which patients who were no longer breathing and without a pulse. The healthcare workers on hand did not have the skill set to perform basic life saving support through CPR and airway management. The hospital had access to previously donated emergency medical equipment, however it was left to disrepair as the staff was not trained on how to use it. During their first trip Lisa and Lauren made strong relationships with local workers and were able to develop a key partnership with local Ugandan Red Cross volunteers. They attended meetings with the local Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) branch manager. Together, they created a strategy on how to improve the emergency care in the local hospital. When they returned home, they began collecting surplus equipment and supplies from the hospitals where they work. Lauren became a fully certified CPR Instructor via the American Red Cross Society. Lisa developed connections within her local hospital to obtain the donation of defibrillators and patient monitors, as well as obtaining a qualification in suturing.
In September of 2019, they returned to Uganda and traveled with bandages, sterile gloves, sutures, assessment monitors, oxygen concentrators and AEDs, all of which were to be donated to the hospital via the URCS. Together, they established a CPR/AED training program and were able to certify over 30 local hospital staff members in Basic Life Support. They also created a training day on how to assess a deteriorating patient and how to use all of the newly donated equipment. Lisa and Lauren, alongside the local emergency response doctor, began to put in place structures for the new Emergency Department. PULSE International continues to work in partnership with the Ugandan Red Cross in order to better equip the hospital in Lugazi with upcycled equipment and supplies collected. There are also ongoing discussions in regards to a new project aimed at training and empowering local members of the community to become certified first aiders and be the local first aider for their village. The goal in training more locals is to improve a patient’s chain of survival, providing assistance in the field before the patient can reach a primary care facility.