"Service Above Self"

To say this trip was overwhelmingly successful is not strong enough.  The Chisago Lakes club as well as District and Global mentors received a very exciting email early in the journey.  On the second day of ultrasound teaching at May Pen Hospital  a women arrived at the Emergency Room in terrible pain.  She was pregnant and the doctors suspected an ectopic pregnancy which could be life threatening.  With a possible ectopic diagnosis typically the patient would be sent to a larger private hospital two hours away for an ultrasound.  If the patient had the funds for the test, and if there was transportation available for her, she would travel to the private hospital, wait in line for the ultrasound, and then return home only to travel back to the private hospital a week later for the ultrasound results.  After all that she would again go back to the original hospital for treatment.  As stated, ectopic pregnancy is life threatening and her chances would not be very good.  With the ultrasound machine in the Emergency Room the patient was scanned, diagnosed, and surgery performed immediately.  We saved our first life!

The VTT consisted of Dr. Jill Linse, a White Bear Lake physician who has been traveling to rural Jamaica for the past eight years and holds medical licenses in Minnesota and Jamaica.  The rest of the team included  Dr. Ron Johannsen, Cardiologist with Hennepin County Medical Center and the University of MN, Colleen Johannsen, a specialist in EKG interpretation, two licensed ultrasound techs from the Twin Cities, Dawn Grey and Renee Reedy, and Rotarian Joanne Sackreiter who was part of the Chisago Lakes Rotary  grant committee. Dr. Linse’s experience in Jamaica gave the team a lot of credibility and insight to Jamaican medical processes so training and diagnosis was done on patients rather than just in the classroom.   

The team left the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport on January 2nd loaded down with fifteen large boxes of ultrasound, EKG, and blood pressure machines.  In addition we had text books for training and ultrasound gel.  EKG paper and reusable EKG leads were purchased from a local company in Kingston, Jamaica and sent directly to the hospital in May Pen.  Disposable EKG leads like those used in the United States are not sustainable in rural Jamaica as there is not money in the budgets for the equipment much less for disposable items.

Dr. Linse conducted a survey in October 2015 while in Jamaica to understand the level of ultrasound and cardiac training the doctors and staff had in these rural hospitals.  The decision was then made that the VTT would stay in a central location with members of team one staying to do training and give cardiac lectures while team two traveled to different locations only teaching how to use the ultrasound  machines.  Team one started at a hospital that already had an ultrasound machine and the operating knowledge because of  Dr. Linse, but didn’t have the diagnostic training so the machine was not used.  The two teams then swapped locations so Dr. Johannsen taught cardiac diagnosis without needing to actually teach how to use the machine.  Consistency in training helped the VTT to identify learning problems and focus lectures and training accordingly. 

The villa where the team stayed was a secure rental home but through the Jamaicans we hired as drivers, those that maintained the villa, and the fact that Dr. Linse is well known in rural Jamaica, we were asked, and performed scans at our home in the evenings and off hours.  To say there was very little time off in fourteen days is an understatement.  Even on scheduled days off part of the team was in transit to another location, or were doing ultrasounds, blood pressure tests and cardiac diagnosis at the Villa.

A component of the cardiac training our Rotary club was not aware of when soliciting funds from clubs in District 5960 was the possibility of  Drs. Linse and Johannsen getting approval  to lecture and train at a level that the medical staff participating would qualify for certified medical education credits. The first CME session was in Ocho Rios, the home base, on a Saturday.  The hospital expected twenty-two participants but actually certified sixty-one by the end of our stay. 

                                                            Successful and Rewarding

Thank you to all Rotary clubs in District 5960 who contributed to our Global Jamaica Medical Grant and VTT (vocational training team).  Twenty-one clubs in our district participated in this project.  It would not have happened if it was not for the time each Rotarian gives to fund raising and the generosity of your club.

Unusable Donated Ultrasound Machine versus Rotary's State-of-the-Art Donated Ultrasound Machine

The second CME session was in May Pen which has two public hospitals.  The staff was prepared for eighteen participants as the hospitals involved are extremely busy and it is difficult for staff  to get away for training.  The hospital staff worked on their schedules and the VTT worked a longer day to make sure the hands-on portion of the training was done in the Emergency Room with patients so the doctors could get certified.  Forty-two staff members were certified from that location by the end of the stay.  What this means is that not only do the hospitals have state-of-the art equipment, the staff has the training to use it and save lives.

The stories go on and on.  Joanne Sackreiter, the Rotarian team member kept her club and mentors up- to -date with the training and it became quite clear that the equipment, lectures and training exceeded all goals by a huge margin.

The medical staff receiving ultrasound and cardiac training was given another survey at the end of the stay to see the comparison with the first survey.  The results were very positive.  When the Global Grant’s six month final report is completed it will show the number of rural Jamaican residents that benefited from the equipment and training.  Our club and those involved with the Global Grant and VTT are positive the results will be well above what was expected.

Reality versus Scenery

Another example was shared by the Chief of Emergency Services at

this same hospital.  The doctor could hardly contain her excitement when relaying the story.  A woman came into the emergency room and the doctors felt the only option was exploratory surgery.  The doctor remembered they NOW had an ultrasound machine at their hospital and the doctor had passed her ultrasound and diagnosis training that day so she did the scan herself.  The woman didn't need surgery, was treated, and sent home!

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The Chisago Lakes Area Rotary Club ​is a 501(c)4 non-profit service organization that supports local and international service needs focusing on literacy, hunger, clean water and the eradication of polio.  

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Since 1998 the Chisago Lakes Area Rotary Club has devoted fundrai​sing energy to passionately supporting the needs of our local community as well as our global neighbors.

Rotary is a grass-roots organization consisting of business professionals and community leaders that volunteer time, talent & resources in order to remedy vital community needs with over 1.2 million members worldwide

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