Global Partners was created in 2008 to develop long-term, sustainable relationships and community-to-community partnerships that expand beyond Gundersen Health System’s typical borders. In doing so, this global health model will improve the overall health of the region, education of the citizens and quality of life for people in our partner communities located in South Dakota, Nicaragua and Tanzania.
These partnerships are not one-sided. We learn from the communities we serve. By observing the resiliency of populations who have limited assets and resources and unique cultural approaches to solving problems, it will help us improve our own efficiencies and models of care and education. In addition, these volunteer opportunities help us gain an appreciation for the access we have to healthcare and education in our own communities.
Global Partners is funded by philanthropy and fueled by community volunteers. Gundersen is not working on this project alone. We have developed partnerships with community groups—including school districts, universities, businesses and other organizations—in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, as well as the areas Global Partners serves.
The program currently focuses on three locations:
While many things vary from region to region, one thing remains the same. Each site desires a sustained connection that will improve the long-term, overall health and education of their community, not just take care of their day-to-day needs. Global Partners facilitates the development of:
- Medical services, including primary care, surgical care, and some specialty care services.
- Education support, including the education of community-based healthcare workers, scholarships for high school and post-secondary students, student exchanges and classroom partnerships.
- Public health initiatives, such as maternal-child health programs, community health assessments, water filtration and housing projects.
- Resources, such as supplies, textbooks (healthcare and general education), healthcare manuals and mentoring of healthcare workers.
During 2012, Global Partners has been involved in many activities, and the list below highlights some of the accomplishments and partnerships through this program!
Healthcare Accomplishments and Partnerships:
- Provided electronic ultrasound consultation for Nicaraguan primary care physicians on an ongoing basis, and additional ultrasound training particularly in cases of renal failure
- Collaborated with UW-La Crosse class on grant writing to create funding proposals to improve access to contraception, asthma care, dental care and neonatal care in Nicaragua, and diabetes education and walking trails on Pine Ridge
- Sponsored a public health nurse to provide health education in rural Nicaraguan communities
- First volunteers went to the IPC (Improving Patient Care) clinic at Pine Ridge, in addition to volunteering at Porcupine clinic
- Provided more complex surgical services and education at Nyakato Health Center
- Developed an electronic data collection tool for health assessments in rural Nicaragua, in collaboration with a UW-La Crosse graduate student in computer science
- Expanded community health assessments to other rural, poor communities in Nicaragua
- Began to establish volunteer surgical services at Hospital Regional Cesar Amador Molina (HRCAM) in Matagalpa, Nicaragua
- Expanded free mammograms and clinical breast exam services to women Rosebud reservation, in addition to Pine Ridge
Education Accomplishments and Partnerships:
- Began a Global Partners scholarship through Oglala Lakota College for a Nursing student
- Facilitated a connection between the School District of La Crosse Health Science Academy and schools on Pine Ridge Reservation; high school students from La Crosse taught a “Healthy Heart” unit to middle school students at Porcupine School and Crazy Horse School during 2012 trips
- First education team with representation from School District of La Crosse connected with schools in Santa Celia, Nicaragua and provided training to Nicaraguan scholarship students and teachers
- Collaborated with Scenic Rivers Area Health Education Center and the Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine to sponsor Pine Ridge Reservation high school students for a week at Gundersen for a Native Students Health Careers Camp
Community Development and Relationship Building Activities:
- Raised more than $90,000 towards initiating a housing project in Santa Celia, Nicaragua ($100,000 goal... 25 homes at $4,000 each!)
- First non-medical team worked with the Lakota Beginning Farmer/Rancher program on Pine Ridge
- Hosted the Tanzanian Ambassador to the United States at Gundersen
- Supported a Healing Camp for Pine Ridge youth who have experienced trauma and grief
- Continued exchange of quilting and artisan skills at Porcupine Clinic
- Continued sponsoring the community of Santa Celia, Nicaragua, with educational scholarships, nutritional meals and healthcare