SPECTrust

FullSoul, SPECT, and Rotary Club of Mukono are Partnering to Provide Medical Kits and Training on Surgical Instrument Sterilization to Nurses and Midwives in Uganda

In Canada, when women labor in hospitals they have trust in the healthcare system to use sterile supplies for safe delivery. In Uganda, chronic underfunding has left many health facilities without adequate medical supplies. Very often, pregnant women arrive at hospitals with their own medical tools and must pay for their own delivery supplies. If they cannot do either, they are turned away. In addition, shortages of consumables means that disposable items often get reused between patients, potentially increasing the spread of dangerous infections. To reduce post-delivery complications and deaths, FullSoul and Sterile Processing Education Charitable Trust (SPECT) are partnering to provide medical kits with reusable surgical instruments and training on proper sterile processing techniques to midwives and nurses.

FullSoul, a Canadian non-profit organization co-founded by Christina Hassan, implemented the Maternal Medical Kit (MMK) program in hospitals in Uganda. The program provides hospitals with toolkits containing artery forceps, scissors, kidney dishes, needle holders, and dissecting forceps that can be sterilized and reused.

With funding provided by a Global Rotary Club Grant, SPECT will provide training and mentoring in sterile processing practices to help ensure instruments provided through the MMK program are safe for reuse between patient procedures. In partnership with the Rotary Club of Mukono, SPECT and FullSoul will provide sterilization equipment, including instrument baskets, dressing drums and autoclaves where needed. The added tools, as well as SPECT training, will equip nurses and midwives with an essential understanding of the importance of sterile processing practices. SPECT’s research has found knowledge of effective sterilization practices motivates healthcare workers and decreases the risks present in the birth environments for mothers and babies.

“FullSoul’s number one priority has always been safe births for mothers, babies and healthcare providers. With the help of SPECT, we will make sure that our tools reach the highest attainable level of sterility so no one is left behind.” says Christina Hassan. “Thanks to Avenue’s Top 40 under 40, we came to know about SPECT and all the great work this Calgary-based organization does around the world. It is always great to meet people doing wonderful things in our global community, but even better when we find those connections at home in Calgary.”

Christina Fast, founder of SPECT, established the organization after visiting hospitals in Sierra Leone and learning that sterilization of surgical tools was absent in the hospitals she visited. Fast is an experienced sterile processing educator who has been teaching healthcare workers since 2011, both in Calgary and internationally. SPECT has worked in 7 countries in Africa, including Guinea, Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Benin. SPECT’s involvement and connection to numerous countries in Africa makes them suited to work together with FullSoul to improve healthcare in Uganda.

For more information on FullSoul please email info@fullsoul.ca. For more information about SPECT please email hello@spectrust.org.

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