NYAGI • Haiti
In late 2018, NYAGI was invited to Haiti to help teach ultrasound as part of Project Santé, a country wide program to improve healthcare in Haiti. By January 2019, a group of almost 30 sonographers, physicians, medical students, medical assistants, and other volunteers had been assembled and was headed to Port-au-Prince.
Photographs by Jason Houston
Introductions & Local Partners
The first day in Haiti focused on basic introductions and an overview of the many different uses for ultrasound. Over 40 Haitian doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers joined the NYAGI team along with representatives from our hosts, the Caris Foundation and a half dozen sonographers working with the International Foundation for Sonography Education and Research and ultrasound equipment distributors, Universal Diagnostic Solutions (UDS). NYAGI founder and ultrasound champion, Dr. Cliff Gronseth, also outlined the training program for the week, including some of the science of learning behind the NYAGI approach and his goal that Haiti become a global example for incorporating lifesaving ultrasound into their healthcare system country-wide.
The NYAGI approach can be summarized into three steps, the first of which includes intensive, hands-on training in the basics of ultrasound. For the next four days, camped out at Grace Children’s Hospital in Port-au-Prince, the NYAGI and IFSER teams worked alongside the 43 Haitian healthcare providers, teaching everything from knobology and how to set up and adjust the machines to the finer points of creating proper diagnostic images from their scans.
The second step in NYAGI’s approach is special to NYAGI—and critical for teaching ultrasound—and is the incorporation of 7D Imaging’s NAV™ software suite. The NAV software is a mobile learning and interactive reference ‘EdTech’ platform for continued skills enhancement. Alongside the hands-on learning that participants were getting from NYAGI’s expert sonographers, other NYAGI volunteers were teaching how to use the Apple iPad®-based software.
Throughout the week, the NYAGI team was able to shift their training to do less hands-on showing and more hands-off supporting of the Haitian doctors. Part of the goal is that by the end of the week doctors know the machines and basic techniques well enough that, with the references available in the NAV software, they are able to find what they are looking for on their own and to make proper diagnostic images. This ability to continue to develop their skills and learn without requiring the constant—also expensive and impractical—input from visiting experts is key to the NYAGI approach.
The week of hands-on training and education in the NAV software suite wrapped up at Grace Children’s Hospital in Port-au-Prince with a certificate awards ceremony. The 43 doctors, nurses, and midwives will return with the 20 machines provided by the Caris Foundation back to their hospitals and clinics armed with basic training and the 7D Imaging NAV software suite on an Apple iPad to begin using ultrasound to save lives.
On the last day in Haiti, the team visited a rural clinic just outside Port-au-Prince that serves two local communities. It was a great opportunity for the whole NYAGI team to get out of the hospital (and hotel!) and see the conditions in which many in Haiti live.
The Way Forward
Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas and has suffered multiple natural disasters including hurricanes and earthquakes in recent years. And as we saw in the news just before and just after our visit, they are also struggling with political corruption and the social instability that all of these unimaginable pressures put on a resource-limited country like Haiti. Still, with help from organizations such as the Caris Foundation, Catholic Medical Mission Board, and the Haitian Health Foundation through the USAID-funded Project Santé, and the simple good will of everyday Haitian people like the 43 doctors who participated in NYAGI’s training this past week, there’s hope. There always is, and NYAGI exists because we believe that.
Photographer Jason Houston and videographer Justin Simpkins stayed on after the rest of the team left back to the United States, to travel back with several doctors to their clinics and see their ultrasound machines set up and scanning for the first time. The final step in the NYAGI approach is continued learning, both through the 7D Imaging NAV software and through options such as remote webinars with NYAGI sonographers back in the United States.