An Opportunity for Creativity and Human Connection a “World Away”
Kelly McDaniel, BS, RT
Technology Internal Information Consultant
The human spirit is powerful. And, when we’re graced with the opportunity to really experience this power, it’s contagious. Walt clearly felt this power, after learning about Deo’s story in the Pulitzer Prize winning book, Strength in What Remains. A member of the World Health Organization (WHO) referred Walt to Deo, knowing the two would share in similar passions to make a difference. April of last year, we all had the opportunity to hear Deo (in the flesh) share his gripping personal story and the genesis of what is now Village Health Works (VHW). After which, Walt quickly connected Deo (and VHW) with Mazzetti’s Sextant Foundation to help support VHW projects in Burundi.
And it spreads…
In the fall of 2016, Walt introduced Mazzetti+GBA’s Technology Region to Thomas McIntyre, M.D., a surgeon from New York city, serving as the clinical director for the Kigutu Hospital Project–a 150-bed facility currently under construction by Village Health Works in Kigutu, Burundi. Beyond basic healthcare, Village Health Works is holistically focused on education, economic development, food security, and community engagement.
Rendering of the new Women’s Health Pavilion–aims to be a world class state-of-the-art hospital with modern hospital equipment, not commonly found elsewhere in the region.
Burundi is a mountainous country located in the Great lakes region of central Africa. It has a population of 11 million (roughly the size of Maryland). After suffering a decade long civil war, Burundi has remained peaceful since 2006; however today it faces challenges in providing clean water, food, and medical care for its citizens.
These challenges are particularly significant in rural Burundi where almost 90% of the population lives. In the remote village of Kigutu, women have a 1 in 23 chance of dying in childbirth, and 54 out of 1000 babies will never celebrate their first birthday. Village Health Works established a clinic in Kigutu in 2006. VHW is now in the process of expanding its services to include the Kigutu Hospital that will house the Women’s Health Pavilion. Our Technology Region has been working with VHW and Dr. McIntyre, developing a comprehensive medical equipment list, cost estimates, and procurement schedule for the project.
Adding to the complexities of medical equipment selection is the environment in which the equipment will eventually reside. The only areas that will have air conditioning are central sterile, surgery, lab, and possibly imaging. Identifying equipment that can withstand the heat, dust, and humidity, inherent in non-conditioned air, is a challenge. The equipment must also be able to operate with minimal impact on the facility’s power grid and be procured at a reasonable price.
The medical equipment budget is perhaps the biggest challenge. Budgets are not a new challenge for us–nearly every project has its own budget concerns. Towards this, we often must apply value engineering to decisions to bring our cost estimate into alignment with the owner’s number. On this project, funding is primarily from donations and the medical equipment budget is a fraction of our “norm.” A typical 150-bed women’s and children’s hospital in the U.S. would probably constitute a medical equipment budget of $37-47 million. This project’s medical equipment budget is $3 million, roughly 6% of the “norm”.
Our Cost-Reducing Approaches
We’ve revamped our medical equipment selection to include: stainless steel bedside cabinets (more durable and less expensive than conventional, laminated particle board versions), manual beds (not only less expensive than automated beds but also more reliable positioning in the event of a power loss), and refurbished central sterile equipment.
Working on this project has been a learning experience that has been very meaningful to me, personally. It has challenged my creativity and opened my eyes to the lives of women in other parts of the world.
If you would like to learn more about VHW and its many projects (including the Women’s Health Pavilion), please visit: www.villagehealthworks.org.
Exciting News Ahead
We are in the process of planning a Sextant project with Deo. We will be helping him build a major solar farm for one of his hospitals, requiring serious fundraising. If you feel compelled to donate to this cause, you can do so here: http://sextantfoundation.org/cause/village-health-works/. Appreciate all generosity and further spreading the power of the human spirit.