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Article posted: 7/26/2013 11:11 AM

NCH radiologists make a difference in Haiti

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A group of radiologists on staff at Northwest Community Healthcare is going global and expanding their reach through a unique partnership with a busy trauma center in Haiti.

The radiologists are providing long-distance computed tomography (CT) scan interpretive services for patients in Haiti. Radiologists with NCH's on-site radiology team, Northwest Radiology, S.C., are working with doctors at Hospital Bernard Mevs in Port au Prince, Haiti. Hospital Bernard Mevs operates a busy trauma center, surgical service and outpatient clinic, but owns just one CT scanner. There are only four CT scanners in the entire country. The hospital also is challenged with finding radiologists who can provide timely, reliable interpretations.

To help provide more CT interpretive services at the hospital on a daily basis, a group of radiologists on staff at NCH has volunteered to fill the gap through teleradiology, which allows for the transmission of radiologic patient images, such as X-rays and CT scans, from one location to another.

As part of HaitiRad, an organization formed by Stephen Zivin, MD, the radiologists use a web-based picture archiving and communication system to view patient exams from any computer that has Internet access. In one of the first cases of U.S.-based radiologists working with an underdeveloped country, the radiologists on staff at NCH read patient exams the same day they are taken in Haiti.

In the past month, HaitiRad has interpreted 200 CT scans free of charge and is in the process of partnering with a new radiology residency in Port au Prince to provide ongoing training.

"These are patients in the poorest country in the Western hemisphere receiving world-class radiologic care on a daily basis," Zivin says. "My partners who participate enjoy it because it is personally rewarding and intellectually challenging. The diseases we treat in Haiti are so much different than those at home."

Providing the services is rewarding, Zivin says. Recently, a radiologist reviewed a CT scan taken on the former deputy president of Haiti, who was assaulted in a kidnapping attempt. The radiologist reviewed the scan and issued a report to local physicians who would be treating the patient's injuries.

Zivin makes occasional visits to Haiti to teach radiology courses for local physicians and is creating a process of ensuring patients receive follow-up care. Because the radiologists on staff at NCH are treating patients on a continual basis, they are identifying patients who are in need of surgery and working to match the patients with volunteer surgeons in Haiti.

"The ultimate goal of our partnership with Hospital Bernard Mevs is to train the future generation of Haitian radiologists," Zivin says.

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