Dr Jill Linse pushing for better emergency room care
Cecelia Campbell-Livingston, Gleaner Writer
Minnesota doctor Jill Linse is on a mission, and that's to see to it that most hospitals in Jamaica are equipped with a portable ultrasound machine - bringing the accidents and emergency (A&E) rooms on par with those in the United States.
Dr Linse started the ultrasound project in Port Maria through a needs assessment that she did as a liaison between the Port Maria Hospital, her network of nonprofit groups, and the diaspora.
"The ultrasound was identified as one of their greatest needs. We (a sonographer and I) provided the machine and training in January 2014. The same occurred in Annotto Bay later in 2014," she said.
Her work had not gone unnoticed as a physician from the May Pen Hospital heard about the projects via a diaspora press release and made the request that the Clarendon hospital be considered as the next site.
That's where Rural Xpress caught up with the busy doctor who was in town to assess their equipment and training needs and to meet with the Rotary Club to work on the grant proposal.
"I was able to demonstrate the machine and begin hands-on training on a machine loaned to me by the SonoSite company. The A&E physicians were very enthusiastic. During our week, we were able to utilise it in direct patient care. In a discussion afterwards with Dr Andrea Johnson, we concluded that it was a mutually rewarding experience," she said.
Now having a taste of the very handy medical equipment, they are all looking forward to the acquisition of the actual machine and the future training sessions, which she is hopeful will be in the spring.
What's So Special
So what's so special about this machine? According to Dr Linse, the portable ultrasound will be invaluable for assessing trauma (car accidents, stab and gunshot wounds) patients.
"X-rays can demonstrate fractures (broken bones) but cannot detect internal bleeding or pneumothorax (collapsed lung). With the ultrasound, the A&E doctors can assess trauma patients at the bedside and immediately determine who needs life-saving surgery. They will also be able to detect blood clots and use the ultrasound to assist them in procedures," she said.
The machine can also help in immediately diagnosing obstetric emergencies like ectopic (tubal) pregnancy and foetal distress to save the life of a baby and/or mother," she added.
Now fully licensed to work in Jamaica, Linse makes the trek to the island at least four times for the year - with her main goal being to source equipment and train handlers.
"If I come and donate my service, when I leave, the needs will still be there. By sourcing the equipment and (providing) training on how to use them, when I leave many persons will still be benefitting," she said.
Dr Linse, who hails from Minnesota, said her quest in helping at the local hospitals began after hanging out with her friends in Robin's Bay, St Mary. There, she started meeting local doctors and developed a kindred spirit with them.
"I felt they were my colleagues. They are doing so much with so little. I felt they could do their jobs if they had better equipment and professional training," she said. That conviction started her eight-year outreach.