A Beautiful Sight

Vanderbilt Helps Establish Emergency Care in Guyana

Ron Morris, left, director of Guyana’s first emergency medical services system, and Jeff Gray, emergency communications manager for Vanderbilt LifeFlight, show off two of Guyana’s new ambulances. (TIM BELL)


Vanderbilt’s emergency medicine residency program in Guyana graduated its first resident last November, capping a decade-long effort to establish the country’s very first emergency medicine program and department at Georgetown Public Hospital Corp. (GPHC).

The first graduate, Dr. Zulfikar Bux, is overseeing the Department for Accident and Emergency at GPHC and leading efforts to establish an Emergency Management System in his country, in collaboration with Dr. Nicolas Forget, residency director of Vanderbilt’s Guyanese residency training program.

“This collaborative training program is a stellar example of what academic medical centers should strive for: sustainable ‘capacity building’ training programs with developing country partners,” says Cathryn Rolfe, chief business officer for the Office of Health Sciences Education and director of international clinical initiatives for Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The partnership was conceived in 2003 with the vision of then-chief resident in emergency medicine Dr. John Paul Rohde, who is now assistant professor of emergency medicine and director of the adult Emergency Department. The program now has 11 residents enrolled.

Guyanese emergency medicine residents spend one month at Vanderbilt training with residents and faculty. Many Vanderbilt emergency medicine residents have gone to Guyana to teach and practice alongside Guyanese health care providers under the supervision of Vanderbilt faculty.

“Rather than sending our doctors down there to provide care to some patients and then leave, we wanted to create a lasting and permanent change in the health care of that dramatically underserved nation,” says Dr. Corey Slovis, professor and chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine.

Many Vanderbilt emergency nurses have traveled to Guyana to train nursing staff. A country-wide ambulance-response service also is being implemented in collaboration with Vanderbilt Emergency Medicine and funded by a grant from the Morris Family Foundation. The Guyana Ministry of Health recently purchased seven new ambulances whose staff has been trained by Vanderbilt emergency medicine personnel.

“It is a beautiful sight to behold—being so far away from home but in an emergency department that functions very much like ours,” says Slovis.

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