SPECT

Exciting News from Cambodia!

On February 7th two of our SPECT team members met with Safe Surgery team members at Calmette Hospital in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  This meeting was ground-breaking for so many reasons, but most importantly, it signals the beginning of SPECT’s expansion into South East Asia. As you can see from the photo, participating members of the Cambodian hospital leadership welcomed us with open arms and are just as excited to get started as we are!

From left to right, Professor Lem Dara - team lead for SS2020 at Calmette; Dr. Koy Vanny - Director of Clinical Department; SambathSochivy Lon - SPECT Research Assistant/Translator; Dr. Olive Fast - Chair of SPECT; Dan Fast - SPECT Program Coordinator; Kith Rathamony - Assist International Country Director.

My Reflections Working with SPECT

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When I started working with SPECT as a research assistant in Tanzania, I was given the opportunity to challenge myself and expand my knowledge into many new areas. Professionally and personally my experience is with environmental issues, as I have my Bachelor of Environmental Studies, so it was interesting for me to learn more about the healthcare sector. Since my time with SPECT I have become increasingly interested in healthcare, particularly because I had such a wonderful learning experience. Over the course of the summer, my primary duties were to help with translating between English and Swahili and assist SPECT facilitators with training activities for both the Fundamentals of Sterile Processing course and the Training of Trainers course.

During our time in Tanzania, SPECT has made a significant impact on the ten hospitals that we worked with in the Mara and Kagera Regions. One nurse told me: “Staff members are happy with the visible results and changes that have been made since the training”.

As I was visiting the hospitals, prior to assisting with training sessions, I observed many sterile processing practices that I learnt were putting staff at risk of causing infections to patients and themselves. A few of the situations and stories I found most interesting, which I’d like to share with you are as follows:

  • Often, staff would store food and sometimes take tea in the sterilization room. Most rooms were not well organized since sterilization staff did not have the training to know that poor organization increased the risk of infection. I also found sterilization staff did not realize how important their positions were in the hospital.

  • Big brushes that would be used to clean floors, walls or clothes were used to clean instruments.

  • Clothes used to wrap instruments had lint and holes in them. The lint would stick on the instruments during sterilization and the holes allowed microbes to contaminate the sterilized instruments before use. Gauze was also used to tie wrappers, increasing the potential of contaminating the instruments.

  • Instruments looked clean on the outside but had rust on the box locks and serrations. There were also many instruments that were not functioning. 

  • There was no one way flow of instruments, increasing risk of cross contamination and infection.

  • The sterilizer chambers and the rooms (walls and floors) were seldom cleaned.

After assisting SPECT with their sterile processing training, I visited the hospitals again for follow up assessments. I was impressed by the changes that had been made by staff.  One nurse told me “Instruments appeared clean, shiny and attractive compared to the previous; even the doctors and other staff members are impressed”. Other changes that I’m pleased to share include:

  • Some hospitals had stopped using Chlorine to wash instruments and were using just water and soap and had also trained other staff working in the operating theater.

  • Sterilization staff were using smaller brushes (like toothbrushes) to wash instruments and big brushes were now used to wash clothes, walls and floors.

  • Instrument packages were neatly tied for sterilization and storage.

  • Sterilization staff were now following processes learned in SPECT training, cleaning decontaminating, sterilizing and storing instruments in an organized fashion.

 
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During my time with SPECT, I was able to witness significant changes this training program had on hospital staff. Firstly, the training reminded staff that their jobs are important. The course emphasized the importance of sterile processing and this helped to communicate the importance of the staff’s role in this process. Secondly, it renewed their sense of fulfillment in their positions. I noticed staff worked hard to initiate these changes during our follow up assessments and were proud of what they accomplished. Lastly, I was able to recognize a shift in mindset focused on keeping patients and staff safe. It was apparent that hospital staff looked favorably on their training and were ready and willing to make changes to positively impact the safety of patients, themselves and other staff members.

Theresia Maduka, SPECT Research Assistant

First Avenue’s Top 40 Under 40, Now WISE’s 50 Over 50

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You may recall Christina Fast’s nomination for Avenue Magazine’s 2017 Top 40 Under 40 last fall. Based on her work with SPECT and dedication to the sterile processing field, this time last year we were celebrating Christina’s ground-breaking work as our fearless founder, educator, and consultant.

Well, with a new year comes new achievements and SPECT has once again been nominated for another distinguishing award in our Canadian community. The WISE 2018 50 Over 50 Award highlights seniors in business - specifically senior entrepreneurs – and acknowledges the unique struggles seniors face in today’s business market.

Originally, Dan Fast was nominated for this award, but after hearing SPECT’s story, we are pleased to announce that our whole team will be receiving this very celebrated award. Not only are we honoured to be recognized for the work of our entire team, but we are immensely grateful for the assistance this award will provide moving forward. We see the WISE 50 Over 50 Award being monumental in promoting our work to a completely new demographic, but in addition, we are excited to benefit from the business consulting that WISE grants to all recipients.

As a non-governmental organization focused on truly making a difference, it can sometimes be difficult to navigate the business landscape required to make our operations successful. Because of this we are immensely grateful for the opportunity to develop our business skills and receive guidance moving forward as an organization. To read more about our nomination and WISE, please visit https://www.50over50awards.ca/project/dan-fast-sterile-processing-education-charitable-trust-spect/#

Renata Mrema                                                                                                                         SPECT Volunteer       

Achieving Good Health and Well-Being Together

When I first approached SPECT with my interest in volunteering in Tanzania, I never could have imagined just how much I would learn during such a short period of time and the extent to which my experiences on the ground would not only inspire me to remain involved in the organization but also make me feel proud of the tasks I was able to help with, no matter how small they felt at the time.  

For those who don’t know me, my name is Renata Mrema and my professional skills certainly aren’t based in the health care field. I’ve lived many lives, flipping between industrial operations, to the corporate world, and finally resuming my role later in life as a management student. Through my studies and life experiences I’ve found my passion in environmental, social, and cultural sustainability, with a focus specifically on tourism.

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Through my university studies I was introduced to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and undertook a seminar to promote these goals as a SDG ambassador. While I think we can all agree there are many global challenges that numerous organizations are working tirelessly towards finding solutions for, the complexity and gravity of these challenges can be overwhelming to say the least. The SDG’s aim is “to set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all” – a end goal I’m sure we can all get behind (https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/). One tactic that the SDG team encourages is for the public to select a goal that resonates with them, and to take steps, no matter how small, to help achieve that goal. In the past, I’ve always selected goal #13: Climate Action because I felt that I can wholeheartedly take steps towards achieving this goal in my personal life and I felt confident in my abilities to make a difference with this goal. As someone who is not educated in the fields of infrastructure, education, health care, or engineering I felt I was unequipped to contribute towards any of the skills-based goals and that they were simply out of my reach. It wasn’t until after my time volunteering with SPECT that I realized I can take steps to help with other goals too.

During SPECT’s Training of Trainers (ToT) course and regional hospital tours in the Mara Region I realized that SPECT is very much aligned with the SDG’s and fighting tooth and nail on a daily basis for goal #3: Good Health and Well-Being. As a long-time follower of SPECT’s work, what I failed to recognize is just how crucial the organizations work is to the sustainable development of not just specific countries, but to everyone globally. Their work affects everyone – people of all ages, all genders, and all socioeconomic backgrounds.

I’d like to share two of the UN Good Health and Well-Being targets with you and I’m sure you’ll see the obvious alignment between SPECT’s mission and what the UN SDG’s are trying to achieve:

  • Substantially increase health financing and the recruitment, development, training and retention of the health workforce in developing countries, especially in least developed countries and small island developing States
  • Strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks

For more information on this goal, I urge you to explore the UN Sustainable Development Goals website as listed here: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/health/.

I realize that by volunteering with SPECT I have only contributed a small fraction to the overall SPECT story, but for myself, this experience has had a profound effect that I believe I am just beginning to grasp. It has opened my eyes to the impact team work can have and that there is really a role in this organization for everyone. While I may feel that I cannot contribute much beyond organizational and administrative duties, knowing I can take this task off the shoulders of those who are more equipped to directly impact the health care of a community is a worthwhile cause that I cannot downplay. We all have unique strengths and abilities, and when we work together we can make improvements in leaps and bounds in areas we couldn’t have imagined possible on our own. Volunteering with SPECT has truly made me believe that with hard work, dedication, and team work, no goal should ever be seen as off limits or unachievable.

Renata Mrema                                                                                                                              SPECT Volunteer

SPECT receives a sub-contract from Assist International

In 2017 SPECT partnered with Assist International to provide education and training in surgical instrument processing to employees from 12 hospitals in Ethiopia as part of the Safe Surgery 2020 (SS2020) Initiative funded by GE Foundation. 

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Throughout this sub-contract we have provided education and training to 24 hospitals in Ethiopia, resulting in over 200 healthcare workers who have increased their skills in effectively cleaning and sterilizing surgical instruments to support safe surgery. 

Hospital Mattress Distribution

Although purchasing and distributing hospital mattresses is not a SPECT focus, when Christina and Dan visited a hospital in Antsirabe in April and toured the maternity department, both were shocked to observe women just out of delivery lying on foam mattresses that offered little support, had either no covers or extensively ripped covers on them, and which had been badly stained with bodily fluids. 

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Since infection control is SPECT’s focus, Christina was determined to “do something about this” and promised the hospital director that SPECT would try to raise funds to replace as many mattresses as possible (the hospital has 150 beds). Market research revealed 4 mattress suppliers in Madagascar. Following tours of several other hospitals and discussions with staff, one supplier was selected. Funds were raised at our silent auction and from a group of generous donors in Australia, (thanks Laura and Jen for spearheading this!) SPECT was able to raise enough funds for the purchase of 10 mattresses. Christina and Kayla had the privilege in September to deliver these mattresses and experience the joy and gratitude expressed by the staff and hospital director. 

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