The Phil Simon Clinic Tanzania Project (PSCTP) is pleased to announce that, once again, an amazingly talented and generous group of volunteers will be traveling to Northern Tanzania to continue our global outreach project. For the last 12 years, PSCTP has been providing medical, surgical, academic, social work and infrastructure services to the East African communities of Arusha, Kisongo Village and Ngorongoro. This year, the largest team assembled will be making the 10,000 mile journey to the clinics in the shadows of Mount Meru and Kilimanjaro. Perhaps one of the most diverse teams ever, it is balanced by a cadre of seasoned team members and enthusiastic newcomers. Keeping the projects going throughout the year have been in the capable hands of Dr. Ezekiel Moirana and Lesikar Naalais. Now, during the first two weeks of February 2014, the surgical suites and wards of St. Elizabeth Hospital, Kisongo Village Clinic and Endulen Hospital will be a hum of Swahili, English and Kimasaai speaking professionals, working side by side to provide state of the art care to Tanzanian citizens.
In addition to the veteran surgeons, nurses, social workers, infrastructure personnel and laboratorians who have already given so much to the project, the team will be privileged to have a pediatrician, a gastroenterologist, an ultrasound technician and a veterinary team. All will be working hand in hand with their Tanzanian cohorts in a collaborative effort to provide comprehensive care to patients and create a robust academic environment for knowledge exchange.
Children have always been an important part of PSCTP, sharing experiences in the schools and providing medical care in the clinics. This year, we are blessed with a board certified pediatrician who will provide much needed assistance for our junior patients in both the clinics and surgical wards. Welcome aboard, Dr. Mark Powell!
Dr. Peter Rosenberg, Harvard graduate and distinguished faculty and gastroenterologist at Huntington Hospital will start fulfilling his dream of working in Africa. He will be evaluating gastrointestinal disorders in the clinics and wards with medical resident and future chief resident, Dr. Jessie Trieu . With the help of our accomplished ultrasound technician, Shukri Iman, they will be exploring safe and noninvasive ways of GI imaging in resource limited settings. Rocket scientist, Mike Eastwood and his colleagues at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have assisted in creating a portable and independently powered ultrasound machine.( Mike is also known for his courage in plugging devices into sketchy clinic outlets!)
Infections transmitted or shared by humans and animals have long plagued most of the world, but especially in largely agrarian communities of developing countries. With that in mind, PSCTP is honored to have Dr. Emily Green, large and small animal veterinarian, Stacy Thibault, veterinary technician and Megan Nold, animal assistant, making up the vet team. Armed with her colorful temporary Tanzanian vet license, Dr. Green will be working with the medical team in understanding the relationship between transmission and risk of animal borne diseases in East Africa. She will be joined by local veterinarians who have generously offered to shepherd the team through daily vet rounds. New to Africa and future ID physician, Dr. Josh Jeharajah will round out the vet team with zoonotic infection expertise in addition to his duties at Kisongo Village Clinic and the wards of St. Elizabeth and Endulen Hospital. Our veteran laboratorian, Cheryl Kuratomi has convinced her equally talented lab tech husband, Rod Kuratomi to assist in sharing serologic assay teaching with the local clinics. Finally, David Mabry and five trip veterans Mickey Singer and Sally Eastman will provide infrastructure and clinic support and begin a solar cooking project to encourage environmentally friendly and safe measures for water and food preparation.
St Elizabeth Hospital will be buzzing with the surgical team and their support system. Newcomers and surgical residents, Drs. Tiffany Wu and Sanjeev Puri will join the experienced operating tables of Drs. George Tang, orthopedics and Chris Tiner, plastics. All will be under the careful supervision of our anesthesia team, Drs. Harry Bowles and Rick Bushnell, making surgeries safe and comfortable. Veteran team members, Susie Lompe and Vicki Landini once again are giving so much of their time and expertise to ensure a smooth OR system and will help newcomers,Miriam Flores, Sara Ryan and Ashley Woodmansee have their own amazing experiences. Dr. Steve Riffenburgh will assist in post op care of ortho and plastic patients and will lend his experienced hands at the Kisongo Clinic. Hollis Kim returns to Tanzania with her spouse, Dr. Bowles and will be helping with follow up data on all surgical patients.
The clinic and all the teams will be run, once again, by the amazing Linda Jackson. Lisa Kim, our very own traveling pharmacist will be indispensable in the dispensing of the several tons of medications brought by all the team members to the clinics. Social workers, Anne Riffenburgh and Bill Mejia will provide much needed patient assistance and support group interventions to local citizens in and around the clinics. And then there are the nurses..they are the engine that keeps the project going. Project co-founders Tom Warren and Susie Lompe keep the whole thing afloat both in the US and Tanzania. Veterans Mary Mendelsohn, Kathy Eastwood, Tina Gozalians and Anne Dickinson will introduce Tamara Marwah, Sara Ryan and Ashley Woodmansee to their Tanzanian cohorts. New friendships and experiences will flourish.
Ground support in the US is essential for this trip to take place and veteran PSCTP members Jim Blitz, general surgeon and Jody Casserly, LCSW will be holding down the fort stateside and supervising supplies and news updates. Of course, the project itself is indebted to all of its generous donors, previous and lifelong team members, staff and administrators of Huntington Hospital and our colleagues at St. Elizabeth Hospital, Upone Clinic, Mount Meru Hospital, Endulen Hospital, Kisongo Clinic and the International Medical and Technical University in Dar es Salaam.
The translating team is assembling in Tanzania as this is being written. Lesikar, Pascal, Jonathon, Livingstone and Godwin will continue their invaluable services to the entire team and their people. This year, we are especially privileged to have Kelley Riffenburgh, daughter of Dr. Steve and Anne Riffenburgh who will be joining the translation team and fine tuning her, already quite fluent, Swahili.
The Phil Simon Clinic Tanzania Project continues to grow in its scope, its outreach, its talent and in the extraordinary gestures of generosity of all its participants. It is an amazing example of global activism, cooperation and giving. I know I speak on behalf of all involved, both American and Tanzanian, that this project exemplifies what ordinary citizens can do when they open their hearts and minds. What all these individuals have done and continue to do makes a difference in the world. I end with my favorite African proverb:
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Together we go back to our friends and colleagues in Tanzania.
Kimberly Shriner, M.D.