US doctor and nurse volunteer and train PolyClinic staff in Emergency Medicine

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

A doctor and a nurse from the U.S. have been on the island volunteering and conducting training in medical emergency response at the Dr. Otto Rodriguez San Pedro Poly Clinic II. Certified Emergency Physician Dr. Mike Mazzeferro and registered Emergency Trauma Nurse Jodie Harnish, who both work at Bayfront Medical Center Level 2 Traumatic Center in St Petersburg in Miami, U.S. have been donating their time to train some of the nurses and doctors at the clinic in the handling of traumatic emergencies. Along with the training, the two also worked to set up and prepare an emergency or “code” cart inside the emergency room.
Speaking to The SPSun, Dr. Mazzeferro said that the two have been helping and giving hands-on training in just about anything that the clinic requires of them while in Belize but their main goal is to offer training and share ideas on dealing with traumatic emergencies. “Given the amount of time we are here we share ideas on emergency medicine that they would like us to address. Some of these things are common things and problems that they may encounter on a daily basis,” said Dr. Mazzefferro. The team of two has been going over some of the things that need to be in place at the clinic to efficiently deal with traumatic emergencies as well as the procedures that need to be followed when handling such emergencies.
Dr. Laurenzco Nicholson of the Poly-Clinic said that he has been working along with Dr. Mazzeferro to gather as much information and get the training for the staff so that in the event of a sever emergency, they would be better able to take care of the medical needs of a patience. “In order to be better prepared to save lives, you need to be strong in as many medical areas as possible. While for some it serves as a refresher course, it is always good to share ideas. The more you do these training the more accurate you become and the less errors you make,” said Dr. Nicholson. He added that whatever help the clinic gets, be it monetary, equipment or training, it certainly goes a long way.
One of the main things Dr. Mazzeferro and Nurse Harnish have been working on is to put in place the trauma emergency cart that will be properly equipped for children and adult trauma. Everything needed in the cart was sorted and organized with an instruction chart. The staff at the clinic also learned about the triaging procedure during an emergency. But in a small country where resources are limited and the lack of proper equipment is always an obstacle, the doctors at the Dr. Otto Rodriguez San Pedro Poly Clinic II have to function with the equipment available to them. Such is the case of an outdated module physio-control lifepak defibrillator on the emergency cart. “The equipment can certainly be upgraded which will allow them to give better care to the people in the community. Some of it is workable but you have to do with what you have but there is certainly a lot of room for improvement,” said Dr. Mazzeferro. For that reason, donations are always welcome to upgrade some of the antiquated equipments, one that Dr. Laurenzco Nicholson of the Poly-Clinic stressed on. The clinic gets at least two or three medical emergencies on a weekly basis.
Dr. Mazzeferro’s visit to San Pedro was organized by Nurse Harnish who lives in San Pedro Town and along with her husband Scott owns the Palapa Bar and Grill but works in Miami. “Dr Mazzeferro wanted to come down and he expressed wanting to help in any way possible whether it was to bring donations or assist at the clinic. We spoke about it and we were able to put together his trip,” said Nurse Harnish. According to Nurse Harnish, Dr. Mazzeferro’s visit is just one of the many things planned to improve the medical emergency service on the island. Already there are plans by a group of citizens, including Nurse Harnish to come up with a medical mobile that can provide emergency medical service to the northern portion of the island. According to Nurse Harnish and Alexandra Hauptli, the medical mobile would help address the needs of the northern portion of the island that is desperately needed. Hauptli said that so far, they have been working along with proprietors of the casino at Captain Morgan to have a portion of the winnings from poker games donated so that they can acquire the medical mobile. While there is a vehicle that the doctor can use to get from one point of the island to another, it is not equipped to handle an emergency. “We just need to equip the vehicle and we would gather equipments to have the mobile up and running,” said Hauptli.
Speaking on the medical need on the northern part of the island Dr. Nicholson said that “there is no medical emergency outpost for the northern end of the island. Because that is the area I also live in, I decided to partner with Nurse Harnish to see if we can provide emergency evacuation services and care for that section of the island.”
Nurse Harnish brings donations to the clinic monthly when she returns from work in the USA. One of the areas the clinic hopes to get assistance for the acquisition of a modern cardiac life pack defibrillator to help with emergencies for both residents and tourists.
Nurse Harnish also took the opportunity to thank Dr. Greg Hicklin and Mary Hawthorne from Caye Management who helped with the accommodation of Dr. Mazzeferro.

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