Creighton Telemedicine & Elephant Evisceration

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Each week, Creighton’s surgical team convenes to discuss cases and gain insight from one another. Often, depending on the case, the team will also invite relevant specialists to comment on the case and offer their expertise. This week, the FAME team was invited to join the weekly meeting via teleconference. Dr. Kelly, our Global Surgery Fellow from Creighton University, facilitated the call with her colleagues. She had sent the FAME team a presentation featuring several cases we had seen during her time in Tanzania, including tropical pyomyositis, reactivated latent TB, and a dramatic trauma case of a young man who had been gored by an elephant.

The Creighton team presented the cases and asked for input from Dr. Kelly and a few surgery and tropical medicine specialists. On the FAME side, we had nine of our doctors present and one of our radiologists. It was very rewarding to be able to swap ideas and discuss these difficult cases in real time with doctors on the other side of the map. Additionally, it was exciting to be able to see our Creighton colleagues and conduct  question and answer sessions as if we were all seated together around the table in our small conference room in Karatu.

Both teams greatly benefitted from the experience.  We were able to learn new treatment methods and hear diverse opinions, while also being able to teach our Creighton colleagues what it’s like to work in rural Tanzania.  On several occasions, our doctors had a good snicker when we were told to use a type of advanced equipment as an interventional tool when that tool does not yet exist in Tanzania’s medical setting. Dr. Kelly was very open about what resources we have here and how practicing medicine isn’t as simple as it is in the US. We were grateful for the opportunity to share the reality in which our doctors and nurses must work each day. 

The surgeons were nearly speechless when it came to discussing the last case – a patient eviscerated by an elephant tusk. The director of the Global Surgery program, Dr. Philipi, ended the conference saying the experience was “illuminating to many people in this room how limited your resources are.” He praised the FAME team for caring for patients at the level we do even without all the newfangled equipment they have access to in their hospitals.

 
Kathrine Kuhlmann