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OHSU Team Returns from Successful Medical Trip to Gimbie Ethiopia Share This OHSU Content

The team completed 49 surgical procedures for pelvic organ prolapse in addition to providing educational efforts in family planning and midwifery.

A team of Center for Women’s Health physicians, midwives, OHSU nurse anesthetists and surgical nurses recently returned from a 2 week medical trip to Gimbie Ethiopia as part of the “Footsteps to Healing: OHSU’s Global Collaboration to Improve Women’s Health in Rural Ethiopia” project.  This team completed 49 surgical procedures for pelvic organ prolapse in addition to providing family planning and midwifery education at Gimbie Adventist Hospital.

The team flew to Addis Ababa then embarked upon a 450km bus trip into the western highlands of Ethiopia to reach Gimbie Town, a town of roughly 50,000 residents in the West Wollega Zone.  Within the West Wollega Zone there are fewer than 300 hospital beds serving a population base of 2 million people who are mostly subsistence farmers.  Gimbie Adventist Hospital (GAH) therefore plays a vital role by providing much needed medical care to its local community of approximately 250,000 rural residents.  The hospital has 71 hospital beds with 2 operating rooms, a small labor and delivery area, a laboratory, x-ray facility and out-patient clinics in obstetric, primary and dental care.  GAH oversees 6 rural health centers up to 220km away thus accessing most rural communities in its region.  GAH also operates a College of Health Sciences comprised of a Diploma Nursing Program.  This was the first trip in our collaborative relationship with GAH in an effort to supply surgical care for women along with educational programs for the hospital.

GAH has identified three priority health care areas in need of this collaborative attention.  One of these areas is the epidemic of pelvic organ prolapse.  Multiple vaginal deliveries, prolonged and often times obstructed labor coupled with a lifetime of heavy manual labor creates serious muscle and nerve trauma to the pelvic floor leading to uterine prolapse with discomfort and voiding and defecatory dysfunction that causes silent social, physical and psychological trauma.   Our goal is to provide needed surgical care for these women who could not otherwise afford treatment while educating GAH surgeons, nurses and anesthetists in pelvic reconstructive procedures.  Our team worked elbow to elbow with the GAH surgeons, nurses and anesthetists to complete a total of 53 operative procedures.  Every patient received a new pair of shoes generously donated by Keen Shoes of Portland and a dress hand sewn by an area sewing group.

Safe and effective contraceptive options are another important women’s health concern brought up as a priority topic.  Our team lectured to nursing students and worked closely with their school’s instructors and administration to explore ways to train them in IUD insertion and contraceptive counseling.  This educational effort will become an important part of our ongoing relationship with GAH.

Finally, GAH’s College of Health Sciences has recently been approved to begin a Midwifery Program as part of their effort to decrease maternal mortality and morbidity.  Our nurse midwives spent many hours planning with GAH administration and Ethiopian health authorities how best to embark upon a curriculum for this program.  The long term success of this educational effort will depend upon our on-going collaboration. This introductory trip laid strong groundwork for the trips to come.  Next efforts include growing the midwifery school curriculum as GAH looks forward to its first group of students and outlining a training program to take back for teaching IUD insertion and other contraceptive techniques.  We will also continue to develop sessions on surgical technique, patient selection and preparation for their OR staff along with gathering surgical teams to travel to Gimbie.  Footsteps to Healing is thankful for the many groups and individuals both inside and outside of OHSU who generously contributed to our ability to send our first team.   We welcome anyone who is interested in assisting us with this program either through joining a team, participating in gathering supplies or providing financial assistance.


November OHSU Footsteps to Healing Team:

Rahel Nardos, MD Urogynecology & Reconstructive Pelvic Surgery
Renee Edwards, MD Urogynecology & Reconstructive Pelvic Surgery
Mark Nichols, MD Obstetrics & Gynecology, Family Planning
Suzanne Burlone, MD Obstetrics & Gynecology 4th year resident
Joan Bessey, CRNA, Anesthesia
Kendall Snow, CRNA, Anesthesia
Elizabeth Kavanaugh, CNM, MS, Midwifery
Penni Harmon, CNM, MSN, Midwifery
Dana Peterson, RN, Surgical Nurse
Amanda Skinner, RN, Surgical Nurse

Learn more about OHSU's Global Collaboration for Women's Health in Ethiopia
Footsteps To Healing in Ethiopia

About the Effort

In collaboration with two rural hospitals in Ethiopia, OHSU doctors will provide medical training in key areas of women's health. Fundraising efforts are underway to support the program.

Learn more

You Can Help

Fundraising efforts are underway to support the program. To support this project, please visit globalsoulinternational.org