Local partnership has global impact

Author: Sarah Craig

Local Partnership with EIGH and SJRMC

A gift from Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center (SJRMC) to the University of Notre Dame’s Eck Institute for Global Health (EIGH) has been supporting a Global Health Research Associate (GHRA) in Haiti for the past year. A second gift this fall will allow for another year of research, administration, and support of the partnership including Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA) titled Health Systems Strengthening Initiative (HSSI).

The HSSI program was developed by the partnership in an effort to serve hospitals in underdeveloped countries with the placement of graduates from Notre Dame’s new Master of Science in Global Health professional degree program. The vision was a concept shared by Fr. John Jenkins, CSC, President of the University of Notre Dame, Carolyn Woo, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, and Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, President and CEO of Catholic Health Association of the United States. Al Gutierrez, President and CEO of Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center, joined the effort with support for a GHRA in Haiti.

"We believe our faith-based mission calls us to act on behalf of the poor and vulnerable," Gutierrez said. "We are proud to support a program that reflects the principles we were founded on so perfectly." One of the objectives for SJRMC supporting this international project includes a comparison of best practices in health care. This objective is in addition to reducing the disease burden in other countries while exploring ways to reduce the likelihood that new cases are imported to Indiana by travelers and immigration.

Molly Elston, who earned a Master of Science in Global Health from Notre Dame in 2012, has been working as a GHRA in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, since early October 2013, and feels she is making a difference. "I was ready to put my global health degree to work,” states Elston from Haiti. “After an intensive year of classroom training at Notre Dame and research in Ecuador and Peru to earn my degree, I spent a month of preparation on campus at Notre Dame and with CRS in Baltimore and I felt prepared with the skills needed for this new position.”

“As a Global Health Research Associate,” states Elston, “I have played an integral role in the program management and the monitoring, evaluation, accountability, and learning aspects of the project. During my first year in Haiti, my work with CRS Haiti Country Program office included: a review of the hospitals network’s progress toward accreditation by the Haitian Ministry of Health; a study to compile information on successful health network models in other countries with an examination of best practices for leadership and governance, finances, membership, services, and other characteristics within existing networks and associations; assistance with the establishment of a streamlined system for the collection of project-related information, such as project files, assessments, and drug procurement processes and sources; and, provision of logistical support to CHA for a two week consultancy on group drug procurement and biomedical equipment repair and maintenance in Haiti.”

For the 2014 fiscal year, HSSI is focused on supporting the formalization of the Réseau des Institutions Chrétiennes de Sante d’Haïti (RICSH) network as well as delivering targeted interventions to these nine hospitals according to the WHO building block that specifically supports, “access to medical supplies, drugs, and equipment.”

Katherine Taylor, Director of Operations at the Eck Institute for Global Health and Interim Director of Global Health Training, and Juan Carlos Guzman, Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist with Notre Dame’s Initiative for Global Development, help to oversee the onsite research with Catholic Relief Services in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

“We are excited about this ongoing partnership and what it means to health care delivery in Haiti,” Taylor said. “This is the University’s mission in action and an opportunity to place our graduates in positions around the world to strengthen health care delivery where it is needed most. We could not have done it without the support of our colleagues at Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center.”

In the coming year Elston’s work in Haiti will include: serving as a liaison between project partners, volunteers, and RISCH network hospitals, leading the HSSI-Haiti team in Monitoring and Evaluation efforts, participating in the design of a group drug procurement strategy to be utilized at the network level, and, designing supply chain management interventions to be utilized at a hospital level in collaboration with a supply chain management consultant. Elston notes, “I am excited to continue this work and appreciate the opportunity to contribute to furthering this cause! My in-country experience has proven the significance of a continuous GHRA presence, and the important work within this partnership still left to be done.  Thank you Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center.”

Gregory Crawford, Dean of the College of Science at Notre Dame said, “In only three years, our Master of Science in Global Health program has graduated exemplary students who are making a difference around the world in low-and middle-income countries. Support from our colleagues at Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center allows us to fulfill our mission of bringing expertise and resources to areas around the world where health disparities are the greatest.”

Catholic Relief Services, the University of Notre Dame, and Catholic Health Association of the United States formed a partnership to focus each organization’s expertise and resources to strengthen faith-based health systems in countries with little to no access to health services through the Health Systems Strengthening Initiative (HSSI). Haiti was selected as a pilot country for the HSSI.

“The HSSI brings together international experts working with local institutions to ensure that skills and systems are in place to support quality health care,” notes Robert Bernhard, Vice President for Research at Notre Dame. “By linking Catholic leaders in education, health, and international development, this program supports faith-based leaders and institutions.”

About Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center: Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center (SJRMC) is a not-for-profit, multi-hospital healthcare system located in North Central Indiana, offering a full range of services. SJRMC includes: a 254-bed acute care hospital at our Mishawaka Campus; a 58-bed acute care hospital at our Plymouth Campus; a 40-bed Rehabilitation Institute; Outpatient services of the Elm Road Medical Campus; and the Saint Joseph Physician Network that includes 26 practices with more than 75 providers. All inpatient rooms at all SJRMC facilities are private.

A Catholic Ministry Organization of Trinity Health, SJRMC offers personalized, faith-based care paired with the latest in advanced medical technology and procedures. In 2012 and 2014 SJRMC was named one of the nation’s 15 Top Health Systems and awarded Top 5 for Small Health Systems. In July 2014, for the fourth year running, SJRMC was named one of the “Most Wired” hospitals. For more information, please visit www.sjmed.com.

About the Eck Institute for Global Health: The Eck Institute for Global Health recognizes health as a fundamental human right and endeavors to promote research, training, and service to advance health standards for all people, especially people in low-and middle-income countries, who are disproportionately impacted by preventable diseases.

Photo Caption L to R: Al Gutierrez, President and CEO, Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center, Dr. Katherine Taylor, Director of Operations and Director of Global Health Training, Eck Institute for Global Health, University of Notre Dame, and Molly Elston, MS ’12, Global Health Research Associate, Eck Institute for Global Health, University of Notre Dame.