The Ripple Effect: Making an Enduring, Positive Change

Beth Santori, R.T.(R)(CT)(MR)(VI)
Oct. 12, 2017
Beth Santori and friends

A recent trip to Africa opened my eyes not only to the lack of medical resources in clinics around the world, but also to the positive impact one R.T. can make by sharing best practices and other resources.

Serving as a RAD-AID/ASRT Foundation Outreach Fellow in Arusha, Tanzania, I spent a month working with the staff at NSK Hospitals Limited.

The facility is fairly new, having opened about a year before my arrival, so the clinic is equipped with a new 64-slice computed tomography scanner and computed radiography equipment, as well as mammography and ultrasound equipment. It also houses the only fully operational magnetic resonance imaging machine in Tanzania, a country of 50 million people. (There is one other MRI system in Tanzania, but at the time of my visit, it was broken.)

Working With a Resourceful Staff

The medical equipment at the hospital is new, but the supply chain and supply ordering systems leave a lot to be desired. The things we take for granted in the U.S., such as a steady power supply, aren’t guaranteed there. The staff often doesn’t have the basic necessities for safety and patient care, such as gowns, linens, syringes, paper towels and ear plugs for MRI, so they “MacGyver” things together. (For those who aren’t familiar, “MacGyver” was a 1980s and 1990s TV series where the main character gets himself out of tricky situations using everyday items.)

The hospital staff members have infectious positive attitudes. They work at least six days a week, but you never get a sense they’re dragging. Working as a team seems to keep them going.

I was impressed by the skill level of the technologists, but from my experience running the radiology side of an operating room, I knew they could benefit from improvements to their process development and patient care.

Sharing Educational Materials and Best Practices

Although internet service was shaky, I managed to reach my colleagues in the U.S. and had them send me case study files, which I used to teach the hospital staff.

I gave the technologists and radiologists protocols that we use at large health care facilities in Austin,Texas, to develop consistency in admissions, care, image processing and more.

When radiology residents from the regional medical school visited the hospital, the RAD-AID team took time to teach them about MR images, equipment and physics. I think the residents’ visit had a positive impact on the NSK staff members because it showed them that advanced training is available. Having access to this training and to other resources is pivotal to their growth and success.

Beth Santori in Africa

Championing the Cause

The experience left me feeling surprised at how much of an impact one visit can have. I’m a traveling MRI technologist, so I work at a variety of locations and network with educators at teaching facilities. Now that I’m back home, I’m spreading the word about my experience and the resources the NSK staff members need.

Creating a Ripple Effect

If you have donated to the ASRT Foundation’s International Outreach fund, you’re helping more people than you know. The outreach fellows train the clinic staff in another part of the world, which also empowers the radiologic community and improves patients’ perceptions of the quality of care they receive. The program has the power to elevate the assumptions and attitudes of an entire culture. It’s not just the monetary value of your donation; it’s the ripple effect your gift creates.

This article was originally published in ASRT Scanner, Vol. 50, No. 1, Page 20.