Bridges Medical Missions will be continuing with our free outreach services to the at large communities of Lenora - ECD, UDH - Wismar, project Dawn - Liliendaal, GPHC, LHC, Mahaicony, WCD.

Texas State University Respiratory Study Abroad Program in Guyana January 2 - 13, 2018

Bridges Medical Mission along with Texas State University hosted the first Respiratory Study Broad Program in Guyana

Texas State Study Abroad Program - including Amber Hazelett and students. Respiratory care students adamant on “giving back”

The Texas State University students who are in Guyana on a Study Abroad Programme in Respiratory Care, took the opportunity to share with the media their experience over the past two days. Heading the team in Guyana, Professor Sharon Armstead, Respiratory Therapist and Clinical Education Professor at the Texas State University said, with this team’s visit to Guyana, they hope to spark enough interest to have the Government move towards implementing such a programme in the country. “We feel we can add to this health care system as respiratory therapists, our goal is for Guyana to see the value of the respiratory profession and in the not too distant future, develop a respiratory care course at UG (University of Guyana),” Professor Armstead explained. The Texas State University at which Professor Armstead lectures, offers a four-year degree programme in respiratory care. Students undertaking this course will learn general practice, with two years to focus on specialising in Pulmonary Care. After that, 1000 clinical hours are dedicated to the career path of respiratory care. One student, Shane Rodgers said that he developed an interest for the programme after working at a fire department and was exposed to training in respiratory care while another, Jaclyn Brewer said she is living with Asthma and “knows what it is like to not be able to breathe.” All the students on the team hope to make a significant impact, not only in giving back to Guyana but in saving lives when they return home. The team is expected to travel to Linden on January 8, where they will conduct asthma screening and the MacKenzie High School and they will also be attached to the Linden Hospital Complex for a period. Meanwhile, as their work in Guyana is expected to contribute in many forms to the local respiratory care offered, Professor Armstead has indicated that spirometry tools will continually be donated to Guyana through the Bridges Global Medical Mission. The Professor is quoted by the Department of Public Information as saying, “You can’t diagnose asthma and COPD unless you have the tools… we were able to purchase two of the diagnostic tools, the spirometers and we plan to donate that to Guyana… those are the kind of tools (that are needed) and we plan to donate more”. The mass communications students continue to be a part of the documenting and detailing story of the first respiratory care study abroad programme in Guyana More specifically, the team of five respiratory care students, five mass communications students, and two respiratory therapists were attached to the Georgetown Public Hospital (GHPC) practicing what they have learnt in respiratory care classes. The team has been working in the Accident and Emergency Unit, the Emergency Intensive Care Unit and the Asthma and Spirometry unit of the GPHC. Each student expressed their appreciation for being afforded the opportunity to interface with patients and staff of the GPHC, making reference to their reception into the work environment.

Texas State University Clinical Assistant Professor - Sharon Armstead brings respiratory therapy students, donations to Guyana

By Skyler Jennings SAN MARCOS, TX – Texas State University clinical associate professor Sharon Armstead took respiratory therapy students, knowledge and donations to Guyana in January 2018 on a study abroad program. Armstead, the director of clinical education in the respiratory department at Texas State, was born in Guyana. She lived there off and on until she was about 15 years old when her family moved to Canada permanently. She did not return to Guyana until September 2015 on a medical mission trip with Bridges Global Medical Missions. It was on her second mission trip there, in May 2016, that she decided to create the study abroad program; it was the respiratory department’s first independent study abroad program. She said she saw an issue with respiratory care in Guyana and knew she needed to bring students because one respiratory therapist, herself, wasn’t going to be enough. IMG_2561 Sharon Armstead (left) assisted Jennifer Cruz (right) while Cruz bagged a patient in Georgetown Public Hospital. Photo by Skyler Jennings/Global News Team. “I’ve gone to Guyana. They don’t have [respiratory therapists],” said Armstead. “I saw the need for respiratory care, especially in Guyana, because when I worked in the [emergency room] I’d see many patients come in and they’d say they have wheezing, but they would never call it asthma.” The reason, Armstead said, is because the country doesn’t have the tools necessary to diagnose it on a large scale. She said that Georgetown Public Hospital in Georgetown, Guyana, has an asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease clinic, but that it only has two spirometers. Spirometers are an instrument used to measure the capacity of the lungs. When she received a $11,530 grant from the CHEST Foundation, Armstead knew she wanted to use it to help provide the country with the tools to test for asthma and COPD nationwide. “For them to go out in the field…and try and do diagnoses, they would have to take their equipment out of the hospital,” said Armstead. “We were able to purchase two [mobile] spirometry units, so that now let’s say they want to go out into the interior of Guyana, they could take one of those mobile units with them and do spirometry testing.” Her team of five respiratory therapy students from Texas State University left Jan. 2, 2018 for Guyana. Also on the team was a former student, who is now a registered respiratory therapist, to act as her assistant. The students worked in two hospitals while in Guyana: Georgetown Public Hospital and Linden Hospital Complex. They worked in the intensive care unit checking ventilators, doing assessments and giving respiratory therapy education to nurses. They also worked in the emergency room. IMG_0509.JPG Sharon Armstead (right) educated nursing students on respiratory therapy at Georgetown Public Hospital. Photo by Skyler Jennings/Global News Team. “They participated in multidisciplinary rounds. They did oral care. They kind of did some graphic analysis on the ventilators,” said Armstead. “We basically did what we would do here (in the United States.)” Claudette Heyliger-Thomas, the medical director for Bridges Global Medical Missions and a pediatrician in Atlanta, said she knows how important respiratory therapy is in a hospital and agrees with Armstead’s mission to bring it to Guyana. “When I have to go for a regular delivery, I am always concerned that something unusual is going to happen. When I see a respiratory therapist present, boy my blood pressure goes down and my heart rate goes down,” said Heyliger-Thomas. “If that baby decides to turn colors, I know there’s somebody there that’s going to intubate. If the mother needs care, the respiratory therapist is there.” Heyliger-Thomas said she’s known Armstead for about 40 years. They met through Heyliger-Thomas’ husband, who went to elementary school with Armstead in Guyana. She said she admires Armstead’s passion for respiratory therapy. “I like Sharon because she cares. She truly, truly cares,” said Heyliger-Thomas. “If it means that she’s going to spend 24/7 just to make sure an issue that she sees is taken care of, she’s going to do it. She’s got what I call ‘Stick to It-ness.’” Xiomara Ojeda, one of the students who went to Guyana with Armstead, shared a similar sentiment. Ojeda has known Armstead for two years and said she loves learning from her. “She just has a lot of passion for what she does, and it’s contagious,” said Ojeda. “She loves helping people and she’s really good at it. You want to learn from her because she just knows so much and she just loves it.” Texas State University lecturer Holly Wise brought the Texas State Global News Team, comprised of five mass communication students, to document Armstead and her students’ work in Guyana. The two first met in 2017 on a similar study abroad program to Nicaragua. Wise said Armstead shared her vision to bring the program to Guyana. “She is consistent with her goals, and she’s very stubborn and relentless in bringing those goals to life,” said Wise. “I really respect that and admire that a lot.” Wise, who knows how much Guyana means to Armstead, said seeing her in Guyana after a year and a half of talking about it was a gift. She said a special moment was seeing Armstead speak to students at Mackenzie High School, where Armstead’s dad used to be the principal. IMG_2563.PNG Sharon Armstead (right) gave a speech at Mackenzie High School, where he dad used to be principal. Behind her are her respiratory therapy students. From left to right: Amber Hazlett, Jennifer Cruz, Stephanie Kelley, Xiomara Ojeda, Jacki Brewer and Bobby Shane Rodgers. Photo by Skyler Jennings/Global News Team. “That was very emotional because I was up on stage, and I thought, ‘I left here as a student. Now I’m back, as a professor, with my own students.’ I just couldn’t place it,” Armstead said. She said she called her parents, who still live in Canada, while she was in Guyana to tell them about the trip. “What’s emotional is, every time I call them, you can hear the regret that they can’t come home because of health,” said Armstead. “[Daddy] knew I was going to be in Guyana that weekend, and he was waiting by the phone with a nurse so he could make sure he got the phone call.” Armstead, who plans to go back to Guyana in May or June for another mission trip, said, “I make it a point to go back every year.”