Category Archives: News and Press

Innovation Prevents Noncommunicable Diseases

According to the WHO, noncommunicable diseases (NCD), primarily cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes, are responsible for 63% of all deaths worldwide. 80% of NCD deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. While the mortality rate remains high, NCDs are preventable through effective interventions that tackle shared risk factors.

Peter Piot, Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Trustee of the Novartis Foundation, recently wrote:

“Health systems in [developing countries] are ill-equipped to address this emergency. They are stretched under the pressure of fighting infectious diseases like malaria and tuberculosis, which still make up a majority of deaths in much of the developing world. It will take decades before sufficient health coverage is achieved that can adequately address the scale of the NCD epidemic. We need a new approach hks1njv.

We can draw some useful lessons from how HIV/AIDS patients were empowered to manage their condition. AIDS was the first experience of managing a ‘chronic’ condition that many low-and middle-income countries had. With the introduction of antiretroviral therapy from the mid-1990s the life expectancy of many AIDS patients increased. Many were able to return to their lives and families instead of being hospital-bound.

Faced with the prospect of having to care for these patients for potentially a very long time, public health systems mobilised to empower AIDS patients to self-manage their condition with appropriate support from their physicians. This shift to a patient-centered approach – taking chronic care outside of the formal healthcare system and hospitals, and into the community and families – has eased the burden of tackling the epidemic and led to precious resources reaching more people.”

This is where innovation in healthcare can contribute to solving the NCD problem. C2C has developed a health care delivery system that is built around patients. Our patient-centered care model is often the point-of-entry to the care system for vulnerable people and families. We respond to local health needs by drawing on communication between the community and the clinic. At C2C, we believe that this approach is fundamental to effective primary care as we help Haitian families get well and stay healthy.

This entry was posted on by elizabeth.

Disruption in Healthcare Doesn’t Work

Entrepreneurs love the concept of disruption in the market. Silicon Valley defines “disruption” as a simpler, cheaper or more convenient alternative to an existing system or product. When it comes to delivering quality healthcare in the developing world, disruption simply isn’t the answer.

Dr. Caroline Buckee said it best in her Boston Globe Op-ed: “When it comes to addressing epidemics — and a lot of other global challenges — the Silicon Valley startup mentality doesn’t work.” Disruption has become a trend in many spaces among innovators. As for the global health care space, we see more grant guidelines calling for this sort of mentality and problem-solving. While it’s important to encourage innovation in healthcare, we should keep in mind that health care delivery, when supported, is an effective solution to saving lives.

As Dr. Margaret Chan, World Health Organization Director-General once said, “a primary health care approach is the most effective way to organize a health system.” At Care 2 Communities, we believe that primary care works. When patients have access to high-quality, affordable, reliable healthcare, it means that mothers are able to care for their children, children can stay in school, and the entire community benefits economically from a healthy workforce.

This entry was posted on by elizabeth.

C2C Founder, Elizabeth Sheehan, Featured by Ellevate Women's Network

C2C is delighted to share that Founder Elizabeth Sheehan was recently featured by Ellevate Network in this week’s Member Spotlight.  Ellevate is a global, professional network of women dedicated to the economic engagement of women worldwide.

Enjoy the full Spotlight below!

We are pleased to spotlight Elizabeth Sheehan. Elizabeth has two decades of experience delivering medical care in the US and abroad. She began her career in healthcare working in emergency rooms in the US as a Physician’s Assistant. After a year-long journey to 19 developing countries to investigate health care delivery systems, Elizabeth became the medical director of The HALO Trust, an organization committed to village-based mine clearance.

Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.

As a founder of an international non-profit called Care 2 Communities (C2C) I am passionate about building a sustainable primary health care model that will increase health access for vulnerable populations in developing countries. Trained as an emergency medicine Physician’s Assistant, I worked in urban and rural settings in the US for a decade followed by another decade in Cambodia and Africa delivering health care to the poor. I felt most alive when my sleeves were rolled up—in a minefield or rural clinic as well as when building a new model to deliver sustainable health care via shipping containers. Five years ago I founded C2C, whose mission is to save lives by bringing primary health care to communities in the developing world. We currently operate in Haiti and Africa.

What’s been the biggest challenge in your career to date?

We all face naysayers, and I feel like my biggest challenges have been my greatest victories. When the earthquake rocked Haiti in January 2010, it rocked me to the core. The C2C prototype clinic fabrication was complete and within months it was deployed, installed and operational at the site of a destroyed children’s hospital in Port-Au-Prince. Four years later, thousands of pregnant women and infants have been treated, had lab tests performed and medicines dispensed from an on site pharmacy. Partnerships were formed and amplified our mission. Presently we are setting out to prove that sustainable community-run health clinics are possible—and we are tracking close to our sustainability goal years earlier than expected. With integrity, grit and local engagement we are defining a new paradigm for health care. We constantly face funding challenges due to the plethora of organizations delivering health care in the developing world, but very few can truly say they are sustainable.

What was your biggest career breakthrough moment?

My career has evolved over the past 20 years, from front line health worker, health economist and now founder, funder and board member of C2C. When I stopped trying to label myself and focused more on continuing to pursue my passion of health equity for all, I was able to get into the flow. My horizontal career moves have allowed me to learn and contribute in each field in a way that I could not have had I just stayed on one track.

Finish this sentence, “I knew I had ‘made it’ when….”

I knew I made it when C2C made it. With a dynamic team of women employees, we have been able to expand the funding base of C2C to include individuals, family foundations, and emerging institutional support (and always need more of all of these!). The measurable impact made in communities where C2C clinics operate has been significant. In 2 clinics in Haiti more than 15,000 patients have been treated, 20,000+ life-saving medicines have been dispensed, 900+ ultrasounds have been performed, 3,500+ home health visits have been conducted by community health workers, 5,000+ women have enrolled in free family planning programs and 99% of patients say the quality of care they receive is excellent or good.

If you could go back and talk to your younger self (before your career really began), what professional advice would you give her?

It has been said so many times and ways—but I am a firm believer in following your passion. Once found, position yourself amid fertile soil, find mentors and allies, celebrate success more than setbacks and constantly iterate.

Share your two cents about money. What lessons have you learned about money along the way?

My family of origin was very frugal and my father spent time with every one of his 8 children teaching us about money management and his story of success, which was all about razor focus and very hard work. My approach to money as an adult is that it has far more power and transformative qualities when it is out in the world and not piling up in a bank account. Be honest about what you need to live and retire on and what your children need to get launched – then loosen the strings and watch it really transform lives.

What’s your secret to success?

Although I have had many external successes—as a nationally ranked junior equestrian show jumper, a fulfilling medical career and humanitarian service—the most lasting success I am realizing is when I am in stillness. When I am not always doing, going, achieving. It’s about listening in to the stillness, listening to myself, others and to all that is becoming. This is part discipline, part practice and part support network (a great coach has been life changing for me). Regardless of the season, I unplug daily, reconnect to nature and strive to be fully present with my 2 amazing children and partner.

Why are you a member of Ellevate?

It is a wonderful local and international women’s network that I feel has the perfect combination of intelligence, passion and heart. Women helping other women to be fully expressed. I am also interested in connecting with anyone who is interested in serving on our board of directors or supporting our work through their networks.

This entry was posted on by Allison Howard-Berry.

C2C’s Clinic in Namibia Receives Presidential Visit!

Namibian President, Hifikepunye Pohamba, recently visited C2C’s clinic in Namibia’s Democratic Resettlement Community (DRC) near the city of Swakopmund.

The President enjoyed spending time with Sister Elago, C2C’s Community Education Program Coordinator, as well as with Ministry of Health clinical staff members and clinic patients, too!

C2C is delighted to have President Pohamba’s support and looks forward to a strong partnership with the Namibian government for years to come! C2C especially thanks the Izumi Foundation for generous support that makes this partnership possible.

This entry was posted on by Allison Howard-Berry.

Ugandan Women Protest Maternal Mortality

At C2C, we regularly see news stories, blog posts, and personal narratives that remind us how important basic health care to ensure safe childbirth.  Recently, the Boston Globe reported on a story that has been circulating around the world of international development.  Ugandan women, fed up with their country’s staggering maternal mortality rate, have petitioned the Supreme Court “to declare that women’s rights are violated  when they die in childbirth”.  If successful, this tactic would put pressure on the government to address the dire health statistics facing young women.  According to the article, 16 Ugandan women die each day in childbirth, creating tremendous fear for pregnant women during a time in their lives which should be full of joy.  We’ll be following this story closely, and hope the news coverage creates a push toward greater access to health care for all Ugandans.

This entry was posted on by Allison Howard-Berry.

Birth Story

The upcoming documentary film Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and The Farm Midwives, will be a fascinating look at the role of midwives in the US maternal health system.  The film is directed by Sara Lamm and Mary Wigmore, who decided to make the movie after their own experiences with childbirth.  Ina May Gaskin has delivered more than 1000 babies during her 40 year career, and her birthing practices are now studied at major medical schools.  More info about this documentary can be found on their Facebook page, and in a featured article in the July issue of Whole Living Magazine.

*photo by David McClister, via The Guardian

This entry was posted on by Allison Howard-Berry.

Motherhood Around the Globe

The International Museum of Women (IMOW) is currently hosting an online exhibition entitled MAMA: Motherhood Around the Globe.  The project opened last month and will run through September 2012, featuring eight topic galleries about different dimensions of motherhood.  The current topic, Mama to Be? Who Decides If, How, and When a Woman Has a Child?, features stories, photographs, and interviews about becoming (or not becoming) pregnant.

Take a look at this fascinating exhibition and continue checking back over the next eight months to see what else the MAMA project has in store.

This entry was posted on by Allison Howard-Berry.

Christy Turlington Burns on CNN

The above video aired last week on CNN, and provides insight into why we do the work that we do.  Christy Turlington Burns, a global maternal health advocate with Every Mother Counts, articulates the issues that pregnant women face in many parts of the world, including the barriers to antenatal care.  Christy expresses an important point at the conclusion of the clip, stating:

  “I believe that every woman, every person, has some skillset that they can contribute in a meaningful way.”

We agree wholeheartedly.

This entry was posted on by Allison Howard-Berry.

Popular Mechanics article on C2C

Shipping-Container Clinics Could Be the
Future of Mobile Hospitals

About 42 million
shipping containers moved through American ports last year, and one
organization had a bright idea for repurposing these ubiquitous steel boxes:
Make them into mobile clinics that could be shipped around the world to
developing countries in need of better access to healthcare or to disaster
zones where brick-and-mortar hospitals have been damaged.

By
Chris Sweeney

 

When a magnitude 7.0
earthquake
rocked Haiti last year,
80 percent of the buildings at Grace Children’s Hospital in the capital,
Port-au-Prince, toppled. Grace’s inpatient ward, which provided care to more
than 300 children each year with tuberculosis, HIV and other ailments, was
condemned and demolished. As much of Haiti’s critical infrastructure crumbled
after the disaster, the hospital pushed on by stringing up tarps outdoors and
salvaging old cribs and beds so it could continue helping patients, including
those sickened by cholera, the first outbreak in the nation in decades

Around the same time the quake hit, a Massachusetts-based organization called
Containers2Clinics (C2C) and its partners were busy overhauling two 8 x 20-foot
shipping containers into a maternal-care clinic. Founded in 2008, the nonprofit
was based on the idea that these easy-to-move industrial containers could take
on a new life as boxy hospitals-on-the-go, boosting healthcare access in remote
areas of developing nations, particularly for children and women. The prototype
container-turned-clinic was slated to go to Bani in the Dominican Republic. But
when C2C learned about the destruction at Grace Children’s, the company made a
course correction and sent that first clinic to Haiti, where it helped Grace
care for thousands of patients.

Given shipping containers’ reputation for sturdiness and longevity–not to
mention their sheer ubiquity–it’s not surprising that eco-minded engineers and
designers have been transforming the utilitarian steel boxes into all sorts of
spaces, including DIY wet labs and cozy vacation homes. Crews battling forest
fires have hauled them into the field as makeshift bunks. Retrofitted
containers are increasingly proving useful in disaster relief; they have also
have caught the attention of agencies such as FEMA and the Red Cross.

But retrofitting an old, dirty steel box into a sanitary mobile clinic requires
innovative design, precise fabrication and a fondness for using every last
square inch of a tight space. To make it happen, C2C turned to Anshen + Allen
Architects and to Stack Design Build, a construction service firm adept at
retrofitting containers. The firm’s portfolio includes the aptly named Box
Office, a three-story complex in Rhode Island made from 32 recycled shipping
containers that, among other things, serves as Stack Design Build’s
headquarters. “We got a layout of the two shipping containers, and some
very basic schematics and plans,” Andrew Keating, principal and co-founder
of Stack Design Build, says.

Shipping containers aren’t the most forgiving material to work with–space is
limited and incorrect cuts are costly. And because mobility is the clinics’ key
feature, the building specs had to stay within the “ISO
Envelope”–precise dimensions set by the International Standards
Organization that allow containers to be neatly and securely stacked for
shipping. So before putting plasma cutter to steel and busting out the welders,
Keating and colleagues plotted out every detail, down to the angle of the exam
tables. “When it comes time to take tool in hand and make a cut in a
shipping container, there’s no hesitation,” he says.

To make an entire clinic fit into two shipping containers, the first had to
include two exam rooms, similar to a doctor’s office. The second container
needed to be a small pharmacy and laboratory, equipped with a refrigerator,
microscopes and basic diagnostic equipment. The original sketches Keating
received didn’t include mechanical space, so his team needed to create a place
within the already tight confines for basic electric and plumbing systems. The
solution: Build a small partition near the far end, just in front of the
shipping container’s front door, and then sandwich the mechanical guts of the
clinic into that space. This setup ensured easy access for maintenance without
interrupting the flow of the clinic; doctors and patients enter and exit
through doors cut in the middle of the containers.

Making room for the electronics was only half the challenge. Because C2C
intends to send these clinics to remote locations, Keating built the electrical
system to handle irregular power flows and pull power from a variety of
sources. “I think the electrical system is one of the best parts of the
prototype. We came up with a system that would allow the clinic to be powered
from absolutely any source available–local grid power, any kind of generator,
or any nearby house panel,” Keating says. “The proto was shipped with
this long heavy-duty cable that extends from the clinic to whatever the power
source is going to be, and some twist-lock connectors that could plug into
anything.”

The specs for the prototype called for no air conditioner, either, and Stack
Design Build was acutely aware that a steel box sitting in the Haitian sun
would heat up quickly. To keep the clinic cool, Keating’s team applied a 2-inch
layer of closed-cell spray-foam insulation before putting up easy-to-clean
walls made from fiberglass reinforced panels. The team also added through-wall
fans powered by photovoltaic panels and passive ventilation to keep the air
moving. Keating and company applied a few coats of highly reflective white
paint and built a custom canopy.

The operational C2C prototype arrived in Port-au-Prince at the end of 2010.
Kathleen Flemming, C2C programming director, says Grace Children’s Hospital’s
staff has used the shipping-container clinic to care for nearly 4500 patients
in the roughly eight months since then. Patients receive primary and preventive
services, including vaccinations, pre- and postnatal care, infectious disease
testing and treatment, and nutrition counseling.

With its first mobile clinic a success in Haiti, C2C is scaling up. The
organization is scouting locations and securing partners for future clinics. To
increase production, C2C has begun working with Allied Container Systems, one
of the largest providers of prefabricated containers in the world. Lee Hayes, a
project manager at Allied who oversees the C2C work, says the second clinic
will be similar to the prototype, though there will be a few tweaks, including
air conditioners.

Allied is scheduled to finish its first container clinic for C2C in the coming
months, which will go to Haiti. But Hayes says demand for retrofitted
containers is growing across the board. Allied–a major supplier of containers
for the military–has been approached about retrofitted operating rooms and even
large-scale housing developments. And though C2C is focused on bolstering
healthcare infrastructure in developing nations, and not necessarily disaster
relief, its work with Grace Children’s Hospital shows that container clinics
can quickly go where they’re needed.

Considering that more than 42 million containers moved through U.S. ports last
year, the raw material is available. And we certainly know how to move them.

This entry was posted on by Allison Howard-Berry.

New York Times Article

Managing Disasters with Small Steps
New York Times
by Henry Fountain, January 18, 2010
Read full article >>

“Then, last Tuesday, a magnitude 7 earthquake struck the Dominican Republic’s neighbor, Haiti. Hospitals in the capital, Port-au-Prince, were destroyed or damaged, and basic medical care was practically nonexistent. Ms. Sheehan said her donors immediately started calling her. “They all said, ‘Why don’t you send it there?’ ” she said.”

This entry was posted on by Allison Howard-Berry.