Intensive links: global connections

As a teaching institution, Alfred Health is renowned for passing on knowledge and expertise. In recent years, education and training has extended far beyond Melbourne.

The Alfred ICU runs an extensive post-graduate education program.  In 2014, 1149 participants attended a total of 30 courses in 13 different subspecialty areas.  431 (38%) participants came from interstate and 71 (6%) were from overseas.

ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) is one ICU area of expertise for which the Alfred intensive care has won numerous awards. The ICU team now runs custom designed courses for other institutions.  These have included an ECMO course for Box Hill Hospital in 2008, one for South Australia in 2009, Saudi Arabia in 2010, Geelong in 2011, Newcastle in 2011 and Hong Kong in 2010, 2013 and 2014.

Italy, in June 2015 will see the Alfred ICU organize and host their second international collaborative meeting to bring together all the overseas research partners in a more globally central location.   This follows the success of the 2013 Collaborative Clinical Trials in Intensive Care Medicine Conference also in the Prato (Italy) campus of Monash.

The ICU’s global outreach activities began in 2009, when they assisted in teaching BASIC in Cambodia.  BASIC is a two-day comprehensive course introducing junior medical staff to Intensive Care.  It comprises lectures and skill stations, using simulation and group work to understand equipment, develop new techniques, as well as a fundamental approach to critically ill patients. This was followed by teaching in Bali and New Zealand in 2010 and Fiji in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

In 2013, ICU doctors and nurses visited the new Emergency Trauma Centre at Karapitiya hospital in Sri Lanka as part of a program developed by the Alfred’s Emergency and Trauma Service.

The ICU has also participated in the Trans-Institutional Exchange with  Longgang District People’s Hospital, Shenzen China with visits in 2011 and 2013. 

Followed the signing in 2012 of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Alfred and the 2600-bed Longgang Central Hospital (LCH), in December 2014, a team from The Alfred’s ICU again visited the Chinese region of Shenzhen to share their knowledge on the systems Alfred Health uses in critical care.

In this latest visit, for 2 weeks the Alfred team, comprising intensivists, Emergency physicians, ICU and ED nurses, and surgeons, was invited to provide keynote presentations at the hospital's critical care conference.   “All the critical care doctors and nurses from the region came to the conference,” Dr Ihle explained.

“The Chinese government has decided to adopt a western approach to the Shenzhen region, which 30 years ago was countryside. In 30 years the population has gone from 20,000 to 17 million.”

Chinese medicos are particularly interested in Alfred Health’s systems approach, where teamwork is key.

“In China they work in silos, so the trauma surgeon will care for the patient until they are dischargeable from those trauma injuries,” Dr Ihle explained.

“They then might hand the patient over to the orthopaedic surgeon up to two months down the track, after he's been in traction all that time.

“We talked to them about our MET calls where multiple people take care of a patient and our trauma teams which include an anaesthetist, intensivist, trauma doctors and nurses all working together.

“It’s all very foreign to them – they do things quite differently. The thinking is you don’t ask for help until you get to a roadblock and then you hand the patient over to the next specialist.

“But they are now talking about adopting a MET call system similar to ours.”

Later this year, Alfred ICU staff will again visit Fiji as part of a collaboration they have developed with Fiji National University, the Fijian Ministry of Health and The Colonial War Memorial Hospital in the capital Suva.  The Alfred ICU hope this will be the beginning of a long association serving to assist their Fijian colleagues for the benefit of the Fijian people.  A part of this association will include sharing the Alfred’s strong expertise developed clinically and in teaching. This has been made possible by a generous donation from Sadhna Wilson that will fund the costs of the program.  Sadhna Wilson is a Fijian who is passionate about assisting to develop high quality health services in Fiji. She has for the last 8 years been a key member of the Alfred’s Life Support Committee, during which time she has also served as it’s chair.

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