Archive for ‘Emergency & Trauma Services’

November 5, 2013

ER Doctor & Nurse Return from Medical Mission to Uganda

ER Nurse Shireen Mathai and ER Doctor Michael McDonald recently returned from a medical mission trip to Uganda.  The team was there a little over a week and worked in coordination with a local nurse and the African Bible University in Kampala, Uganda, the capital city, to hold a clinic.

ER Nurse Shireen Mathai (on right)

ER Nurse Shireen Mathai (on right)

In country, it took four days to prepare and transform a church building into a temporary treatment facility.

“A lot of people don’t realize how long it takes to set up a clinic, but we had to estimate how many people we’d see then travel back and forth through the city to buy all the medicine and supplies and meet the other clinicians,” said Mathai.

She estimates they treated 400 to 450 people in one day, from sun up to sun down. Common complaints were malaria, upset stomach, intestinal worms and skin diseases.  Mathai managed the lab and tested for malaria and HIV.

“We have the luxury of working with modern equipment in America, where you may not always have that overseas,” said Mathai.  The group hoped to use a donated ultrasound machine but it didn’t work properly.

This is the second clinic McDonald has organized in Uganda in as many years.  He first visited the continent while on humanitarian medical assignment in Swaziland, during his time in the military.

ER Doctor Michael McDonald (on right)

ER Doctor Michael McDonald (on right)

“I enjoyed the continent and the people quite a lot,” said McDonald.  “Since then, I have been to other countries in Africa but have focused on Uganda because it was previously a British colony and most people speak English.  The man who was my pastor during residency in San Antonio also now teaches at African Bible University.  He connected me with a local Ugandan nurse who helps recruit doctors, nurses, pharmacists and church members to help.”

The ability to do this type of work is what led both McDonald and Mathai to their professions.

“God has given me unique skills that are not just for my own use, but to share with others,” said McDonald. “I believe we are all called to be stewards of what we’ve been given and this is one way I can use what I’ve been given to help others.”

Mathai is the daughter of missionaries and lived in India for 8 years.  She has ministered in trips to Swaziland, India and Turkey.

“This is the reason I became a nurse, to do mission work overseas and to help others by doing the Lord’s work,” said Mathai.

October 8, 2013

Blood & Plasma Aboard St. Joseph AirMedical

Billy Rice, St. Joseph Air Medical Supervisor

Billy Rice, St. Joseph Air Medical Supervisor

St. Joseph AirMedical now flies with plasma and blood – to get it quickly to patients who need it most.

“This is absolutely one of the best lifesaving procedures we can give a patient in the field,” said Dr. Adair de Berry-Carlisle, Trauma Program Medical Director at St. Joseph.  “If it’s a prolonged scene time and first responders are taking time to cut patients out of vehicles, our flight nurses and paramedics can start infusions the minute they get there.”

“Putting blood on the helicopter is actually a very new thing,” said Billy Rice, St. Joseph Air Medical Supervisor.  “We’re one of the first helicopters in the state and among the first helicopters in the country to perfect the process.”

Historically, patients transported by ambulance or medical helicopter have been given saline IVs.

“We know now the best thing to give a patient who is acutely bleeding, is blood,” said Carlisle.  “When a patient bleeds, they’re bleeding blood not saline.”

Heavy blood loss can have serious consequences if not corrected in time.

“When you’re losing a lot of blood, processes in your body start to falter and things don’t work right,” said Carlisle.  “What little blood you have isn’t clotting, you get cold, a lot of bad things can happen.  Losing blood and getting cold can cause the body to progressively deteriorate.”

However, receiving blood and plasma transfusions early in a life-threatening situation can help patients stabilize.

“Replacing lost blood products helps support the clotting process which is vital in a trauma situation,” said Carlisle.

Dr. Adair de Berry-Carlisle

Dr. Adair de Berry-Carlisle

Normally, plasma kept at a blood bank has a 30-minute defrosting time.  Thanks to a partnership among the blood bank, lab, emergency department and St. Joseph AirMedical, the crew is able to load two units of O negative blood and two units of plasma as they board, without waiting for the plasma to thaw.

St. Joseph is the only Level II Trauma Center in the region and one of a handful of hospitals in the nation that operates both ground and air ambulances.

“Ultimately we just want to act as an extension of the trauma service team at the hospital,” said Rice.