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Signature Healthcare Maternity Department Members Embark on Cultural Exchange Visit to Cabo Verde

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Through fundraising efforts in the community, members of Signature Healthcare’s Maternity team were able to visit the island of Sao Vicente in Cabo Verde on a cultural exchange and information gathering experience. The team hoped to learn about the people and culture of the country, as well as gain a greater insight into the local healthcare system. The team visited a variety of facilities as part of their experience and provided donations of supplies for use in the island’s university, hospital, and public healthcare clinic. 
Members of the Maternity department who went on the trip include Nurse Manager, Sally Howland; Nurse Midwife, Diane Quadros; Patient Navigator from the Center for Healthy Beginnings Katia Hosein; Dr. Michelle Finkle, OB/GYN; and Chief of OB/GYN, Dr. Keith Merlin. Howland explained many of the department’s patients at the hospital come from Cabo Verde and the team was interested in learning where their patients came from – insight into the healthcare system and culture allows staff to have empathy for the patients served on the Labor & Delivery floor and in the OB/GYN offices. Sally noted many patients who come to Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital from Cabo Verde are often well into their pregnancy upon arrival.

During their trip, the team visited the University of Cabo Verde, the local hospital – “Baptista de Sousa,” as well as public and private healthcare clinics. During their visits they donated three infant CPR dolls for training to the university, hospital, and public clinic, in addition to items like hand sanitizer and sunscreen. While visiting the hospital, the team met with doctors and nurses from the Maternity Department, as well as expectant mothers and new mothers with their newborns. Baptista de Sousa sees approximately 2,500 deliveries per year with only 18 Labor & Delivery Nurses; in contrast, Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital sees 1,000 deliveries per year with 54 Labor & Delivery Nurses. In Cabo Verde, the nurses perform most of the deliveries with doctors only assisting on patients with complications or those undergoing a C-Section. There is no OB anesthesia available or ventilators for infants, and no resuscitation for infants under 28 weeks. “They know what their problems are,” said Dr. Merlin. The medical staff in Sao Vicente has a concept of the types of quality improvements they would like to make, but need assistance bringing it to fruition. Dr. Merlin said the team from Signature intends to work with the staff in Cabo Verde in the areas of protocol, medication use, and educational support, such as simulations; using technology such as YouTube to share simulations with Cabo Verde from America. Despite their limited resources, the hospital in Cabo Verde achieved “Baby Friendly Status” from the World Health Organization and UNICEF in 1996. 

When asked what they took away from the trip, Quadros said it makes everything “very real” - they now know people on the island when they send supplies in the future they can visualize who is receiving them and how they will be used. Howland said, “the people of Sao Vicente were the most accommodating, friendly people - appreciative of the fact we were even there. They were open and willing to share their culture with us and went out of their way to make sure all our questions were answered.”

“We now have a much deeper understanding of the Cabo Verdean people and culture,” said Dr. Merlin. He explained there is now a bond that didn't exist before which can help break down barriers when interacting with patients.