GHF Atlanta Retreat 2017 – Day 3

Reflections from Julia Duarte (GHF 2020)

On our last day, our 7:30 alarms rang in our ears as we woke up and proceeded to prepare for the day ahead. All of the Fellows met in the lobby at 8:15 and we headed to pick up our breakfast. Bringing our usual bagels and coffee with us on the bus, we set out to Emory University. Mrs. Hall and Mrs. Goodson decided to challenge us with an early morning scavenger hunt around Emory. Each cohort was a team and was given a list of buildings and statues and a map. We then proceeded to search for and take pictures of different structures in the humid climate. After walking around the campus for thirty minutes, the three groups met up at the bus to go to our next stop.

GHFs ready to enter the museum at the CDC.


Our next destination was the David J. Spencer CDC Museum. We spent over an hour and a half viewing many exhibits throughout the three floors of the museum. Each exhibit was filled with the many accomplishments of the CDC, along with the vast accounts and facts of many diseases and illnesses. The first exhibit covered Ebola, which comprised of fascinating images and original artifacts from 2014. As we headed down the stairs, we read from walls of information, including of the story of AIDS, a little on Guinea Worm disease, and the obesity problem in the United States. In a separate room downstairs, we took turns putting on BSL 4 suits and experiencing the load of clothing that health workers had to wear during the Ebola epidemic. Afterwards, we met upstairs and drove to Victory Sandwich Bar for lunch.

Ingrid and Andrew (GHF ’19) pose in BSL-4 lab gear at the CDC.

After a tasty lunch, we traveled to the Carter Center in Atlanta, which, sponsored by President Jimmy Carter, works to solve diplomatic issues peacefully as well as working to help impoverished communities worldwide. We had the pleasure of speaking with Angelia Sanders, a Hampton Roads native and former Peace Corps worker, who talked with us mainly about the Carter Center’s effort to make guinea worm disease the second disease ever eradicated after smallpox. She described her experience living in a South Sudanese village helping the community eradicate guinea worm. We all found her talk extremely interesting and engaging, giving us insight into the lives of both those affected by Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) like Guinea worm and also of those trying to eliminate them.

Angelia Sanders presents on her work with Trachoma and Guinea Worm eradication.

After our interesting talk with Mrs. Sanders, we were given an hour to look around the Jimmy Carter Presidential Museum. Many of us enjoyed the Countdown to Zero: Defeating Disease exhibit. It elaborated on the process of eradicating diseases, such as Guinea worm disease, polio, and river blindness. Other parts of the museum included the life of Jimmy Carter, his biggest accomplishments in office, and even a replica of the Oval Office in the White House. Then, we headed back to the hotel and had a few hours to relax and pack our bags for our travelling day tomorrow.    

After a delicious dinner at a local Tex-Mex restaurant, we all gathered to discuss the central mission of the Global Health Fellows Program and modify our guiding mission statement. This gave us the opportunity to set our goals for the upcoming year and those that follow.  We also discussed ways to keep each other accountable for staying up to date on pressing global health issues and news. We all feel confident and inspired heading into the coming year: ready to accomplish our goals and put our thoughts into action.

GHF Atlanta Retreat 2017 – Day 2

Reflections on the morning from Laura Read (GHF 2020).

On Wednesday, it was yet another bright and early start for the fellows, having to be ready in the hotel lobby by 7:00am! We returned to the bagel café and Starbucks for breakfast and were ready to begin the day, boarding the van at 7:15.

Waiting for the keynote speaker, Dr. Gary Gibbons at Emory’s Think Big Symposium.

Emory University‘s Think Big Symposium: Applying Collaborative Big Data Science for Predictive Health was being held at 8:00am, which we were almost late to thanks to a spot of busy Atlanta traffic. After entering the Rollins School of Public Health, we attended the key note address by Dr. Gary Gibbons, MD. He is the director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institute of Health. The NHLBI provides global leadership for research, training, and education to promote the prevention of heart, lung, and blood disorders. He also graduated magma cum laude from Harvard Medical School.

The principle topic during the address was the collaboration between numerical data and how to use that for predictive health and medicine. We learned how healthy people are being studied to foreshadow who will become sick in the future. The NHBLI is aiming to train the new generation of leaders in science and improve the health of the nation. We ended up staying for the first speaker of the panel, Arshed Quyyumi, who spoke about cardiovascular health. He linked healthy people’s data to predict if they would develop heart disease. Surprisingly, factors like marriage and place of living had significant impact of the outcomes.

“After a long few hours of lectures, we decided you might want some caffeine… we’re going to the World of Coca Cola!” were the words of Mrs. Hall, a welcome surprise! We drove over to the Coke Museum, where we took photos outside near a giant bottle cap. Albeit being mostly for fun, we linked the trip to global health because Coca Cola is a significant contributor to the diabetes and obesity epidemic. We thought about the controversy if whether or not it’s Cola’s responsibility, or not because they’re a business. We were greeted by a can of coke and smile, followed by a room full of nostalgic Coca Cola memorabilia. Then we were led to the main area, where we could walk around and learn about the company’s history, see how classic Coke is made, and explore Coca Cola in pop culture. Perhaps the most exciting attraction of all was the tasting room, where there were over a hundred flavors from around the world to choose from! There were a few good ones, but many of them tasted funny (see: the neon green soft drink from Djibouti). Our personal favorite was a drink from Italy called Beverly. It was reminiscent of mouthwash and liquid cough medicine. There was a lot of laughing and it was so much fun to hang out with everyone! After a quick round through the gift shop at the end, we headed off to the Mellow Mushroom for a delicious lunch.

GHFs in front of the World of Coca Cola Museum!

Reflections on the second half of the day from Connor Tiffany (GHF 2020).

In the afternoon, we ventured away from the city, and traveled to Yerkes National Primate Research center, a facility dedicated to conducting essential basic science and translational research to advance scientific understanding and to improve human health and wellbeing. With its status as a national personnel records centers, Yerkes is home to more than 3,000 non human primates, including squirrel monkeys, chimpanzees, and sooty mangabeys. On our tour, we spoke with Julie Moran, an assistant field station operation manager, who discussed the animals behavioral patterns, the various forms of research in which they are involved, and how that research is used to better the lives of humans. Despite the rain, we were fortunate to encounter multiple animals, learning of their vibrant personalities and different vocalizations, like blowing raspberries, a chimpanzee’s call which symbolizes trust and affection. I was especially grateful to meet Winston, a chimpanzee who was incredibly amicable, even with his status as the alpha male of his community. In correlation with our summer reading book Spillover, our experience at Yerkes helped us to better understand the phenomenon of zoonosis, an animal infection transmissible to humans, and how our involvement with animals can lead to the deaths of thousands.

Later in the evening, we made plans to dine at the vintage Rí Rá Irish Pub to replenish from our long day of focus. As we walked through the door and waited to be seated, we were surprised to see a cluster of Hollywood cameras and spotlights illuminating the interior of the historic restaurant. After eating dinner and learning that the fellows could possibly be featured on an episode of “Date Night Live”, everyone gathered around a hotel television and watched the cringe worthy episode unfold. To end the day, the senior fellows lead a productive discussion about “Spillover” and how it applies to the future of disease control.

GHF Atlanta Retreat 2017 – Day 1

Each summer, the GHF program kicks off the year with a retreat in August.  This summer, Fellows traveled to Atlanta, Georgia.  Reflections on the first full day of programming below are offered by Ingrid Benkovitz, GHF Class of 2019.

 

As we struggled to wake up after Tuesday’s long day of travel, the 2018-2020 Global Health Fellows met for breakfast promptly at 8:00. The idea of bagels and coffee helped the morning run smoothly. With full and happy stomachs, we ventured via Norfolk Academy bus to our first outing of the day: the CNN headquarters.

This stop included both a “behind the scenes” studio tour and a personal Q&A with Ben Tinker, Supervising Producer for CNN Health’s Emmy-winning Sanjay Gupta. The studio tour, although an hour long, felt more like 5 minutes long, for each pit-stop was more striking than the last. We were able to see control panels, green screens, and even a live broadcast during filming. While we assumed nothing could top what we had already seen, we were proven wrong. Shorty thereafter, we walked to a small conference room, in which we had the question and answer session with Mr. Tinker.

GHFs pose with Ben Tinker!

Mr. Tinker is simply incredible. His selfless, time-consuming work world-wide is inspiring, his stories fascinating. He briefed us on the three types of news (breaking news, pitches, and series) and explained his process in the tough decision-making of what is “newsworthy”. Having had personal experience in Haiti, including producing a segment there this summer, entitled “Champions for Change”, Tinker understood our work completely, saying, “I always try to leave a place better than I found it… It truly is just the right thing to do”. He continued on to tell us his favorite parts of what he considers the most rewarding job at CNN; to go places and to share peoples’ stories. He then left us with one note: “The stories are where you least expect them… It never ceases to amaze me where the stories come from, whether it be an interviewee’s assistant or the person next to you on an airplane”.  Tinker’s words of wisdom are not only relevant to us, but impactful beyond words.

Following the talk, we headed to a quick lunch in the CNN courtyard in preparation for the second half our day at Emory University Hospital Midtown. We were given a tour of some of the hospital’s most distinct facilities, such as the pharmacy, the new ICU, and the Interventional Radiology Center. The Interventional Radiologists (IRs) showed us some of the special stents and catheters that they use, even allowing us to hold and expand them ourselves. Luckily for us, Dr. Newsome, Olivia’s mom, is an IR at the hospital and created an IR innovation lab for us, where we were split into groups and tasked to plan and build a solution to a prompt relating to hospital safety or efficiency. After an hour of fun, yet challenging work, we presented to the IRs in a “Shark Tank” fashion, receiving feedback for our ideas and creations. We had a short Q&A with the IRs at the end, sparking a thought-provoking conversation about the rise of robots within medicine and whether we should expect some sort of robot takeover. Dr. Newsome dissolved our fears confidently and beautifully, as she remarked, “Try as I might, but you can’t teach a machine to do what I do because you can’t teach a machine to care”. She shared with us that our strongest asset is our ability to care. We are thankful to have such a wonderful, successful, and passionate role model in our lives and cannot thank her enough for the opportunities she has provided for us in Atlanta.

With the afternoon’s adventures coming to a close, we headed back to the hotel for some relaxation time and time to get ready for dinner at BurgerFi. After dinner, we spent the evening reviewing data from the ‘18s and ‘20s trip to Belize in June and getting excited for tomorrow!

 

 

Leadership Lab for GHF ’19s

While our GHF ’18s and ’20s have been in Belize this week, a few of our ’19s have been participating on the Leadership Lab alongside all other Center for Civic and Global Leadership Fellows in their class (Chesapeake Bay Fellows, Literacy Fellows, International Relations Fellows, Engineering/Design/Innovation Fellows). Three week-long Leadership Labs are happening throughout the course of the summer. Half of the week is spent in the wilderness at Calleva Farm and the last few days are spent in Washington, DC. Here is a picture of the first CCGL ’19s Leadership Lab group after their solo night in the woods:

 

Thursday: Home Visits and Tech Sessions

Written by Laura Read (GHF ’20) to recount Thursday, June 16, 2017:

It was yet another hot, sunny day in San Antonio. We woke up early to a delicious breakfast of toast, peanut butter, and coffee from our host family mother, Miss Sandra. At 8:00, we headed off to the community center for an activity packed day! It was going to be out last day of home care visits. 

      The three groups split off again to cover the villages. Gabi, Connor, Claire, Mrs. Goodson, Hector, and I (the Tortilla group strikes again) took the city bus to Cristo Rey, a village about 25 minutes away from San Antonio. We had a interesting conversation with a family about the Belizean education system, which was awesome to hear. The woman we talked to had a lot of insight and a strong opinion on how it should be changed to better the community. Gabi and I got a lot of practice taking glucose levels! I made an effort to practice more of the Spanish I’ve been learning. It’s wildly cool to see how I’m able to understand the conversations the families are having between themselves and Hector. Then, a few hours and some good laughs later, we headed over to the bus stop to travel back to our town. 

     After our last few visits, we headed back to our home stays for some rest and lunch. Olivia and I had a kind of chicken wrapped in fry jacks and it was incredible. Then I played with Miss Sandra’s adorable son, Norbert, who is five. He’s been so cute this week and I’m going to miss him when we leave!

     At 2:00, we all met up in the community center for a tech session. We covered the different uses of ser and estar, listening comprehension, and the pretérito (past) tense in the advanced Spanish group with Hector. I’m learning to think quickly through my Spanish. After our lesson, the groups switched and Kristen (who is awesome and living in my home stay with me) taught us all about maternal health. We learned about maternal mortality, teen pregnancy, family planning, the stages of pregnancy, and maternal health in Belize. It was a really informative presentation!

     Then we headed home for a quick dinner. At 7:30 we were to head over to Sahib, Lawson, and Hector’s home stay for a bonfire and some bonding time. We roasted pineapple and marshmallows! We all hung out in the hammocks for ages. It was a great time. Sahib made us all die laughing, as usual. Then we played Mafia in the back of the pick up truck. It was a lot of fun despite Hunt personally turned Johan against me (cough, cough). 

     Unfortunately, our last round was cut short when the clock struck 9:00, and we all had to say goodbye for the night. We took a few pictures and walked back to our home stays.

     I can’t believe tomorrow is our last full day here. I’m going to miss it so much! (especially Norbert.)

Wednesday: Health workshops at a school and more home visits

Written by Hunt Stockwell (GHF ’18) and Ells Boone (GHF ’20) to recount Wednesday, June 14, 2017:

After yet another delicious breakfast set up by our host mother, we all met up at the San Antonio Pentecostal School to teach the lessons on hand washing and toothbrushing we had created in the previous days. There were four separate groups: two taught the younger kids (kindergarten through third grade), while two had slightly more advanced lessons for the older kids (fourth through sixth grades). As a member of the group that taught toothbrushing to the younger kids, I quickly learned how difficult it was to capture the full attention of six through nine year olds, especially in a classroom setting. Our lessons went extremely well nonetheless, and I was pleasantly surprised by the fact they already kept up good toothbrushing habits; they claimed to brush their teeth three times a day for three minutes each, but I’m not sure if I fully believe that. We ended our sessions with a game of “tooth tooth cavity,” an educational alternative to “duck duck goose”. After we finished our teaching, we joined the kids for recess. We played a myriad of games with the children, including soccer and tag, in which either I was it, or everyone else was. We left to return to our homestays for lunch exhausted but ecstatic from our time at the school. – Hunt, GHF ’18

Having just woken up from our post-lunch siesta, we headed to the community center for another round of home visits. My group went to Cristo Rey, a 30 minute bus ride from San Antonio. In Cristo Rey, my group and I visited houses located near the school. The first house had just one man who graciously let us take his vitals. The 2 other homes we visited were rather uneventful but we collected important data for our needs assessment. A quick bus ride back to San Antonio, a visit to the bakery and Marleney’s store, and we completed the afternoon. – Ells, GHF ’20

After we completed our home visits, everyone reconvened in the community center to discuss our plans to prepare a presentation for another school near San Antonio. We split into on two groups, one group discussing hygiene and nutrition, and the other group discussing sexual education. When we completed these discussions, we walked back to the school and played a pick up soccer game with some very skilled locals. Despite our best efforts, our team lost in the last two minutes by two, unfortunate goals. 

Tuesday: Home Visits in San Antonio

“Team Torillas” trek through San Antonio conducting home visits.

This morning we began with a filling breakfast of pancakes and fresh fruit. We then left our home and headed to the community center to begin our first day of home visits. My group stayed in San Antonio and we visited a total of four homes. We completed blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and other calculations for the free screenings. We also conducted our needs assessment after our screenings. So we asked questions on topics regarding education, nutrition, and illness. Around 11:30 am, we all returned back to the community center and returned home for lunch to refuel for the rest of the day. – Lawson, GHF ’18 

This afternoon, we split into two groups based on our Spanish proficiency: there was the beginner’s group and the group comprised of those who study Spanish. As a member of the more advanced class, we discussed the difference between “por” and “para” in Spanish. Later we were given a lecture about malnutrition, undernourishment, and its impacts on the culture and daily life in the context of Belize. We then spent time refining our needs assessment after our first round of home visits. We discovered that some of our questions were not pertinent to Belize while they were to Haiti. In preparation for our lectures to school children tomorrow about hand washing and tooth brushing, the different groups continued planning and lesson design. Later that night, we went to the local restaurant and had competitive games of cards. – Sahib, GHF ’20

Monday: Tech Sessions, Pottery, Tortillas, and Football

Monday, June 12, 2017:

To start off the day, we woke up early and ate breakfast with our host families before setting off for an activity-packed day. For the first half of the day, we again met at the community center for a tech session, led by Kaitlyn, one of our GPSA student leaders, on the tests we will be administering durning our house visits with the community health workers. We started by learning how take blood glucose levels using a finger prick. Our group split up into our three working groups, which we will be in during the house visits, and we each practiced being the doctor, assistant, and the patient as we all got our blood glucose tested. We then worked to perfect our skill at taking blood pressure, which some of us picked up more easily than others. Kaitlyn then talked to us about measuring pulse and respiration, temperature, and BMI. In order to be able to go to the houses and put our newly learned techniques into practice, we had to pass a test. We were each partnered up and took each other’s blood pressure while Vanessa, our GPSA leader, examined us to make sure our procedure was correct. Thankfully, we all passed and we are excited to get to work in the communities tomorrow! After this morning session, we headed home for lunch, but on the way we were eager to stop at the bakery, which is only open a few times per week. Most of us bought either a freshly baked cinnamon roll, a slice of bread pudding, or a sweet bread that were all very delicious.  

– Gabi Diskin, GHF ’18

For lunch with our host families, we had the national dish of Belize: rice and beans. It was delicious! After a post-lunch nap, we headed over to the local women’s co-op. We observed and participated in the making of corn tortillas which is a Mayan tradition. We mashed the corn and flattened the tortillas and then cooked them on a wood-fire stove. We ate them with coconut oil and salt which made them amazing! After the tasty snack we looked at the Mayan traditional pottery and the various paints they use which are specific to the type of clay used in the pottery. After learning we were able to take part in making pottery and using the wheel where I made a bowl. After our fun day of learning we settled under the gazebo to write our schedules for the school day about tooth brushing and hand washing. – Liz Heckard, GHF ’18

After a long day of learning about and experiencing Belize’s culture, the ’20s and ’18s, along with Mrs. Goodson, Mr. Runzo, a few GPSA leaders, and a couple local children, competed in a friendly game of soccer. Many laughs and falls later, we walked to our separate home stays to shower and prepare for dinner. In the evening, our host mom prepared delicious johnnycakes, which we ate with peanut butter, jelly, cheese, or beans. After we finished eating, we headed to our room to play with our host family’s three-year-old son, Leo. His high energy level brought smiles to our faces, and we spent time laughing along to his antics. Later, we headed to the local restaurant, where we shared a plate of watermelon as we watched the NBA finals. A few of us also drifted to different tables to play a couple rounds of the card game, Hearts. A couple of nodding heads later, we all admitted that we were tired and headed off to our separate home stays to sleep.     Julia Duarte, GHF ’20

GHF ’18s and ’20s head to Belize to work with GPSA

Written by Courtney Kilduff (GHF ’20) to account for June 10-11, 2017:

After two flights and a long bus ride, the Global Health Fellows (’18s and ’20s) arrived in San Ignacio, Belize! We took a relaxing afternoon to settle in and get to know our host families. The following day (Sunday, June 11) started off with a meeting with Global Public Service Academies (GPSA) volunteers; we listened to presentations about hand-washing and patient care, were informed of the week to come, and even learned some more Spanish. Some things we learned included the 7 steps of patient care: preparing the station, greeting the patient, introducing yourself and your program, making sure the patient is in a relaxed position, explaining what you hope to do, following the protocol, and gaining consent before anything else. We role played interacting properly with patients. After eating lunch with our separate host families again (we eat all our meals in our homes), we took a bus to see the Mayan ruins at Xunantunich.


Written by Claire Cunningham, GHF ’18, to recount afternoon of June 11, 2017:

After lunch with our host families we all met up to go to the Mayan ruins. After about an hour long bus ride with our bus driver and tour guide, José, we got on a ferry to get to the ruins. To get to the ruins we walked up a big hill and saw howler monkeys on the way. José told us many interesting stories about the Mayans including the fact that the did not call themselves the Maya. When Columbus arrived in Central America he asked the people what they called themselves. They replied “maya” which means “I do not understand.” Therefore, Columbus wrote about the people who call themselves the Maya. We saw several different ancient buildings. The largest of which was the Castillo. The Castillo is a staggering 40 meters tall. It was hard to imagine how the Mayans were able to build such grand structures without modern tools. The view from the top was breathtaking. We had lots of fun exploring the ruins and the animals that now inhabit them such as monkeys, tarantulas, and iguanas. Visiting the ruins really gave us insight to the culture of the ancestors of many people in Belize. Afterwards we visited a market right outside of the ruins to buy souvenirs. We all returned to our host houses for dinner and went to the store afterwards to buy ice cream — which is without a doubt the best way to end a great day in the sun. 

Observing Cataract Surgery

The Global Health Fellows in the 2018 and 2019 cohorts recently read and discussed an interesting case from the Center for Global Development on treating cataracts in India.  Following the case, the 2019 cohort traveled to Virginia Eye Consultants.  

Below is a reflection from Andrew Thetford, GHF ’19.

This past Tuesday, the 22nd of March, the 2019 Global Health Fellows had the privilege of watching two cataract surgeries and touring the facility that offers these services.  Our day at the Virginia Eye Consultants Center began with a tour of their amazing building, one of the nicest and most comfortable medical centers I had ever been to.  We viewed the many offices that are located in the building, including a newly renovated area that greatly increased the working space.  We were also shown to two different machines for diagnosing cataracts and other issues in the eye.  One was the Fundus Photo Camera, and the other was called an OCT machine.  Each device took detailed pictures of the back of the eye using high resolution photos, and these pictures could then be studied to examine the severity of a cataract or other problems.  

After our tour, we watched our first surgery. The first patient was a woman around 75 years old, and she was having surgery done on a cataract in her left eye.  This being my first time observing a surgery, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but I was very amazed at what I saw.  The patient is awake the whole time, and is just given a pill to make them feel “as if they have had a couple of drinks,” as our guide explained.  They have to focus on a light directly above them during the entire surgery, which lasts 7-10 minutes, and they feel absolutely nothing during the procedure.  The surgeon began by lubricating the eyeball with fluid, then making two small incisions around and above the iris, the colored part of the eye.  After making these cuts, he sliced off the thin membrane that sits right above the lens of the eye, which itself sits right below the iris and can be seen through the pupil, the dark opening in the center of the iris.  He then removed this membrane with a very small pair of tweezer-like tools.  Now, the cataract was visible.  And like I said, I’m no cataract expert at all, but even I could tell that this was one old cataract.  It was very thick and dark, and really reminded me of the inside of a jelly bean in appearance and texture.  The doctor poked around for a little bit, then inserted a vacuum-like tool into the slits and began to extract the cataract.  Because of the thickness of the cataract, it took a while.  The cataract fell apart in chunks and was quickly sucked up by the tube.  After finishing, the doctor inserted the new lens into the opening.  The lens was rolled up like a contact, and sprung apart once inserted into the eye.  The new lens immediately improves vision, allowing the patient to perceive colors and details that they had not been able to in a long time.  

Our second patient was a little different.  A few years younger than the previous patient, this woman had had a laser procedure done on the cataract before actually having it removed.  This means that a precision laser device softened and cut up the cataract to make it easier to extract.  This combined with a younger and softer cataract made for a swifter and easier procedure.  

After finishing up with both patients, we finished our visit with a tour of the Pre- and Post-Op area.  This room was filled with curtained-off sections for wheelchairs and hospital beds.  One of the patients we had watched, who had just finished up with surgery no more than 15 minutes before, was already up and ready to leave.  We were also shown the laser machine that performed the preliminary procedure on the second patient.  It filled an entire room, and had several dials and buttons that made no sense to my cohort.  The operator of the machine, however, obviously possessed a wealth of knowledge and experience for how to operate the device, and gave us a very detailed overview of how it worked.

Our trip to the Virginia Eye Consultants was a great experience.  The 18’s and 19’s just recently finished a case study discussing cataracts in India, so this was an awesome way to experience it firsthand.  Additionally, several of us are interesting in further researching optical health in developing countries, so having learned about and witnessing cataract surgeries is not a bad thing to have under our belts.