For the past four years, Elmhurst Hospital has exchanged doctors with Debre Berhan Hospital in rural Ethiopia in the hopes of sharing ideas and teaching African medical workers ways to prevent infection and provide HIV treatment.
“There were basically no precautions taken [to prevent infection]. The assumption is everyone has been exposed so no one is at risk, but that’s not true,” said Joseph Masci, Elmhurst’s head of medicine, who heads up the partnership.
They encouraged nurses at Debre Berhan Hospital to wash their hands, for example, giving them statistics on how paying for soap would save them money treating infections.
They stressed the importance of record-keeping and reaching out to HIV patients who miss appointments, as well as quarantining tuberculosis patients.
But the federally funded project has moved beyond AIDS work. An Ethiopian health commissioner and a university president toured the Queens hospital last week to discuss starting a medical school in Debre Berhan and dealing with basic patient communication.
The Ethiopian entourage said it were impressed by how efficiently staffers worked and welcomed their patients – which they plan to duplicate at Debre Berhan Hospital.