April in Uganda

The PURE team has returned to southwestern Uganda during an uncharacteristically sunny April to continue our ongoing ultrasound capacity-building at Mbarara University of Science and Technology. Following a series of meetings and planning sessions in Kigali, Rwanda our team of four trainers, led by PURE founder and lead trainer, Dr. Trish Henwood, crossed the verdant jungle border to join Drs. Derek Harborne, Julius Mugisha and Lisa Bebell at the Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital (MRRH).

After a brief celebratory reunion, we set to work, preparing for 2 days of intensive, multidisciplinary ultrasound seminars. Within a frenetic 24 hours we’d managed to wrangle a projector, a reliable generator in case of outages, training space in the surgical skills center, a catered lunch for our eager trainees, and volunteer models for practice scanning. The speed and success of our preparations were no doubt thanks to the hard work done by Drs. Bebell and Harborne in anticipation of our arrival.

We spent our first day with the MRRH obstetrics and gynecology department, a dedicated group of doctors, nurses, and midwives with whom PURE has worked before. ‘Enthusiastic’ doesn’t begin to describe our reception by the department. The audience of 25 was more than double our expectation, thanks, no doubt, to the usefulness and popularity of PURE’s prior training endeavors! Lectures provided by myself, Dr. Brian Cone, Dr. Alissa Genthon, and Dr. Julius Mugisha were punctuated by two lengthy, hands-on scanning sessions with volunteer patients from the obstetrics ward.

We spent day 2 with our already ultrasound-savvy ‘local champions’ from the medicine and surgery departments reviewing key topics in point of care ultrasound (DVT, soft tissue, IVC assessment for volume status). Later, Dr. Alissa Genthon introduced a new application to our trainees, the FASH exam (focused assessment with sonography for HIV-associated TB) pioneered by Dr. Tom Heller. The remainder of our second seminar day was spent practicing scans on each other before marching out to the wards to again supervise scanning on volunteer patients.

The conclusion of our seminar days was bittersweet. While training was a resounding, well-attended, and happy success our team parted ways shortly thereafter. Drs. Henwood and Genthon headed back to Rwanda to continue our ongoing training at CHUK in Kigali, while Dr. Brian Cone and I will remain here at MRRH for the next several weeks, providing ongoing bedside teaching, supervision, and spreading the gel-y ultrasound gospel with our champions in OB, surgery, medicine and pediatrics! Stay tuned for more updates in the weeks to come.