Outreach Fellow Strengthens Sonography in Nicaragua

Lindsey Vechart, A.S., RDMS, RVT
Apr. 6, 2017

Lindsey VechartIn fall 2016, I spent a week working at Bautista Hospital and Lenin Fonseca Hospital in Managua, Nicaragua, as the first ASRT Foundation Community Outreach Fellow to do so since RAD-AID International partnered with the hospitals in 2014. My goal was to improve the quality of ultrasound examinations.

The hospitals, which serve the nearly one million people who call Managua home, received ultrasound equipment in 2015. RAD-AID provided the initial training the local radiologic technologists received in performing ultrasound examinations. Follow-up outreach teams provided additional training as well as an ultrasound probe.

The R.T.s have had a great introduction into ultrasound, but they need ongoing support in order to use the equipment effectively to provide a higher level of care to their patients. That is where I was able to share my knowledge and experience as a sonographer to facilitate the professional development of my counterparts in Managua.

My goals were to teach my colleagues proper scanning techniques and to help improve their disinfection practices. Accomplishing that first goal meant working long days at the hospitals, scanning as many people as I could, which would let my colleagues see many different pathologies and scanning techniques. It was rewarding to see how eager they were to learn. They asked questions about and took detailed notes of everything I showed them so that they could replicate it in the future.

I also helped the staff develop imaging protocols, which included the techniques I showed them, to help ensure everyone performs the examinations the same. The expectation is that future outreach teams will refine and expand these protocols.

In this country disease is prevalent, so having even the most basic infection control procedures in place would be helpful. Before arriving in Managua, I had created a PowerPoint presentation on infection control procedures, focusing on using the resources I knew they had. I went through my presentation with the staff and answered questions.

The staff seemed to take what I was suggesting to heart. They hung a copy of my disinfectant procedures near the ultrasound machines and asked for a digital copy of the presentation. I was glad they seemed invested in making infection control a routine part of their work.

My short time in Managua showed me that the hospitals have an ongoing need for the support that the Foundation and RAD-AID offer. The work I did there will touch the lives of patients and R.T.s I will never meet, but there is more work to do before they are capable of providing the level of patient care we enjoy in the United States.

Many of us have shared our time and knowledge to help improve hospital and health care conditions in various countries, but none of what we have accomplished would have been possible without the generous support of donors. It is your generosity and commitment to helping others around the world that empower them to find a way to provide a higher level of patient care.

Generous Foundation donors make it possible to implement sustainable changes through community outreach projects. Please join me in continuing to help people in Nicaragua, and in countries like it around the world, by donating to the Foundation today.