Irma Purisch

People who’ve passed kidney stones often describe the pain as being worse than childbirth, broken bones, gunshot wounds, burns or surgery. One man said, “If you’ve ever been stabbed repeatedly in the stomach or had a lightning bolt strike you over and over again in your abdomen, you can get a sense of the pain.”

This condition affects up to 10 percent of men, especially those in warmer regions. Many people don’t realize the seriousness of kidney stones, and in some countries health systems can overlook them, according to Brian Matlaga, an internationally recognized expert in urinary stone disease and Global Promise guest blogger.

Dr. Matlaga has been a great resource to JHI and our global affiliates. For years, he has been lending his expertise and his commitment to educating and training clinician colleagues around the world to raise the level of health care more universally.

Starting in 2009, Dr. Matlaga became involved in our work with Pacífica Salud Hospital Punta Pacífica (HPP) in Panama. HPP was seeing many patients with kidney stone cases, and urologists there were eager to develop a state-of-the-art practice using lasers.

Dr. Matlaga developed a concentrated curriculum—basically a mini-fellowship—that combined lecturing and demonstration with side-by-side surgeries using the new technology to train staff at HPP.

He initially led the surgeries, with HPP urologists serving as assistants. Then they swapped roles, at first taking on routine cases and then increasing their complexity. He also designed the course to ensure nurses were brought up to speed on the procedure. You can read more about Dr. Matlaga’s knowledge transfer work at HPP here.

I’m proud to share that HPP urologists have been successfully performing the procedure for years now. And I’m proud that JHI was able to connect HPP with Dr. Matlaga to train the hospital’s highly motivated and skilled surgeons and nurses in a procedure that will spare patients from pain that—by so many accounts—sounds agonizing.

Irma Purisch, M.B.A., is managing director of the Americas team of JHI’s Global Services division. She develops proposals and manages education and consulting projects in hospitals outside of the United States. Ms. Purisch has more than 20 years of experience in marketing, strategic planning, international contract negotiation, venture capital investment, financial analysis and human resources.

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