Hi all! Brenton French and I, Joseph Koes, are rising 2nd years within the School of Medicine at the University of Virginia. We, too, are working on a project through the UVA-Guatemala Initiative and are in our third week of Spanish classes here at Celas Maya in Xela (Quetzaltenango), Guatemala. Through our time working with the UVA-GI, we have spent considerable efforts learning about the culture, customs, and practices of Guatemalans so that we, as outside observers, can best understand how might be able to impact their system of health care in a way that is locally supported and sustained in the long-term. Our in-country mentor, Jessica Gonzalez, has led us through numerous seminars covering the education system, the health care system, and the fallout from their relatively recent civil war which we feel have prepared us to be able to go out into the field and speak with physicians, administrators, and students about the current status of their health care system.
Our project involves assessing four regional hospitals for their capacity to support a trauma registry designed by the Panamerican Trauma Society [PTS] – a group of trauma surgeons based out of Virginia Commonwealth University. A trauma registry is a means of collecting epidemiological data on what types of injuries are common in the area. Ultimately, this data can be used to identify preventable injuries, initiate public heath initiatives to bring about awareness of these issues, and improve care in these facilities through World Health Organization supported “Quality Improvement Programs.” We will perform site assessments at the proposed pilot project facilities to characterize the patient load, trauma load, infrastructural capabilities, and overall climate of quality improvement. Specifically, to make the proposed registry function most efficiently we will delve into the possibility of using a simple electronic medical registry that has the capability of exporting data into the PTS trauma registry. With our research, we will write recommendations based on our experiences to our mentors – Dr. David Burt of the UVA Emergency Department, Dr. Medina of the University of San Carlos, and Jessica Gonzalez – for progressing project proposals between the UVA-GI, PTS, and the University of San Carlos (whose students rotate through the hospitals at which we are performing research). Ultimately, we hope that implementation of this proposed pilot project can improve the quality of care throughout the local health care system and be used as evidence for implementing similar programs at the larger national level if supported by the Guatemalan Ministry of Health.
As progress on our project is made, we will update the CGH on our work. Hasta luego.