My name is Elizabeth Sheridan, I am a neonatal nurse at American Pediatric Hospital in Cleveland. I first became interested in Helping Babies Breathe training after a medical mission trip to a rural area of Honduras in Dec 2011. One mother delivered a baby that was lost because basic training and supplies at the clinic were very limited. I wanted to do more, so when I came back to the US I joined a Master Trainer’s course to learn how to teach HBB to birth attendants in Honduras.
I coordinated with a Honduran colleague to make arrangements for the course such as securing a location, identifying participants, and spreading the word about the course. Without good personal relationships with local stakeholders it would have been difficult to navigate the local politics between the health district and community decision makers. A colleague from my HBB Master Trainer’s course and I returned to the same clinic in Honduras in spring 2013 to complete a training for midwives and nurses.
Overall, the course was a success, but it was not without its challenges. We were hoping to get 12 nurses and midwives from the clinic and the surrounding communities, but only 8 were able to travel the distance. We were hampered by frequent late starts as people wandered in, and having to be done by 4 pm no matter what—as everyone would be able to get home before dark. So we had to adjust our agenda on the fly to cover everything in the amount of time we had available. On the positive side the course was very well received and I had the opportunity to forge important relationships that will be invaluable for planning for the next trip. The course participants were very excited to gain HBB skills and were very eager to share their experience with others—potential future HBB students perhaps?! They were also very appreciative to receive the NeoNatalie and Penguin suction equipment to practice their skills even after the course was over.
What would I do differently? Two things: 1) I would have planned far more in advance than the time I gave myself—things move so much slower in the field than we are used to here in the US. And 2) I would bring backpacks for nurses to carry their NeoNatalies and other materials. Our HBB trained nurses often ride on the back of motorcycle taxis between villages, so having a backpack would give nurses a safe way to carry NeoNatalie and print materials and still leave their hands free to hold on as the taxi zips over hills and around the corners of the mountain roads.
This experience has been one of the best of my professional career, and I want to keep the momentum going! I have already got commitments from several nurse and MD colleagues in Cleveland to go with me for the next trip as we expand HBB in this area of Honduras.