Working with nurses at Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital (NMCH) in South Africa—the first children’s hospital in the region—Johns Hopkins nurses found more similarities than differences.

“Nurses all over the world face the same challenges,” says Johns Hopkins nursing consultant Wilma Berends, who traveled with other Baltimore nurses to the 200-bed hospital in Johannesburg as part of a unique, three-year educational exchange.

We are facilitating the exchange, funded through the United States Agency for International Development’s global flagship Maternal and Child Survival Program, led by Johns Hopkins affiliate Jhpiego.

NMCH is a gleaming, state-of-the-art facility stocked with pediatric equipment sized for a child’s body. Colorful art lines the hallways and dangles from ceilings in lofted corridors. Daily life in South Africa can have its obstacles, says NMCH nursing director Jayson Gopiechand.

“There are a lot of service issues in the area,” Gopiechand says. “We have gone three days with no water—how do you run a dialysis unit like that?”

Leaders are devising creative solutions, including installing three 10,000-liter water tanks to keep the hospital open even during South Africa’s growing water crisis.

Gopiechand and other NMCH leaders visited Baltimore in March 2018 to share with and learn from Johns Hopkins and Jhpiego colleagues.

The South African hospital empowers its nurses to help the hospital improve. Our educational exchange supports lectures, simulations and observations so nurses can learn Johns Hopkins’ best practices.

NMCH is positioning its nurses as leaders and experts on the treatment team—and it shows, says Kristina Hoerl, a Johns Hopkins registered nurse educator. In South Africa, she spent time training with the radiology nurse manager, nurses and technicians.

“I went in thinking I would meet with nurses who were a little more reserved in how they advocate for patients,” Hoerl says. “But I was awed at how empowered the nurse manager was.”

This post highlights content from JHI’s FY17-FY18 Impact Report, Realizing the Mission. Read the full report and check out this video to learn more about our transformational work in international collaborative health from the last two fiscal years.

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