April 30, 2015
At SonoSite we are very fortunate to know a large group of doctors and care workers who are invested in global public health. Those rare people that go to remote locations to treat patients and train the local healthcare workers rely on SonoSite to provide them with the ultrasound equipment necessary. Through charities, they are often able to provide ultrasound equipment to be left at the location and used by the newly trained staff. One of these individuals is Dr Randall Malchow who wrote this summary of his experience in Macedonia: Dr Randall Malchow’s Experience in Macedonia: Three Regional Anesthesiologists (Dr Mark Lenart, Dr Nona Hollenbaugh, and myself) traveled to Macedonia in April to expand and promote Ultrasound Guided Regional Anesthesia in that developing country. The goal was to build relationships with fellow physicians here through medical education, dialogue, and fellowship, sponsored jointly by CMDA and MEI (Christian Medical and Dental Assoc and Medical Education International). While the project is based out of the capital city of Skopje, we started our 12 day stay with a trip to Ohrid, Macedonia to conduct an 8 hour Ultrasound Guided Regional Anesthesia Workshop for Macedonian anesthesiologists. Ohrid sits on the border of Macedonia (a newly formed nation in 1991 when Yugoslavia broke apart) and Albania along side a crystal clear lake and is surrounded by snow-capped mountains. The history of Macedonia is fascinating but suffice it to say these poor people have been conquered by every neighbor in the past 2000 years; perhaps it was just all revenge from Alexander the Great’s conquest of the world from Macedonia in the 4th century B.C. Most of the team returned to Skopje to work at hospitals there, while I stayed here in Ohrid to teach and build friendships with the anesthesiologists and other health care workers at 3 hospitals in the area: St Erasmus (primarily Orthopedics with a very rich history as one of the few hospitals in “Yugoslavia” that cared for Cerebral palsy / scoliosis patients), Ohrid General Hosp, and Struga Hospital about 10 miles away. During the week, we taught the Macedonian anesthesiologists ultrasound guided regional anesthesia including upper extremity blocks, paravertebral and TAP blocks, and lower extremity blocks including perineural catheters. We believe that ultrasound guided regional anesthesia could have a major impact in this poor country with limited resources in reducing pain and suffering, reducing perioperative complications and hospital stay as well as cost of care. The people have been amazing hospitable and welcoming, the food and drink fabulous, and the scenery breath-taking.