Sometimes, as the saying goes, “It’s all about who you know.” That sentiment proved true this month for one girl in Ethiopia whose referral to The Addis Clinic started with an email from a woman in Tennessee to our founding physician in Pittsburgh. This woman and her husband support an organization in rural Ethiopia serving impoverished children and she heard about The Addis Clinic through a mutual contact working with our longest standing partner, Ethiopia ACT.
Once the case made its way from our founder to our clinical team, we learned more about this girl in great need of specialized medical care. In their email to us, these concerned supporters told us how during a routine medical exam, the eight-year-old was found to be suffering not only from malnutrition but many other medical problems. Further testing revealed that she was born with only one kidney and that it was failing. Unsure of where to turn next, they hoped that The Addis Clinic could facilitate guidance and advice from specialists most suited to her case.
It became clear that this young girl would need the expertise of a nephrologist and we did not have one on our team of volunteer physicians. We immediately put out the call through our supporters and volunteers, and they delivered! Within hours we had three nephrologists contact us with a willingness to assist. Simultaneously, we worked with this girl’s caregivers to officially bring their organization on as a partner of The Addis Clinic and trained their staff on how to submit an asynchronous telemedicine case. It took many emails and conversations, but by the next morning, we had this new partner set up in our telemedicine system, while our new volunteer nephrologist was onboard and prepared to receive her first case.
As timing would have it, most of this transpired while our Executive Director, Michelle Turner, prepared to fly to Ethiopia and conduct site visits. Within the first few days of her arrival she assisted in referring the case and even more wonderfully, she was able to meet the sweet girl who we are so grateful to help. In the U.S., our Clinical Operations Manager, Meghan Moretti, connected the case with our volunteer nephrologist, who immediately responded with her thoughts and recommendations. These included the belief that a pediatric urologist should also add his perspective. Thankfully, The Addis Clinic is already connected to a pediatric urologist who is happy to lend his expertise when needed, and he was quick to do so on this case.
Now that this girl’s caregivers have the professional opinion and advice of two very specialized physicians, they are much better informed to navigate and consider her medical options. We and our volunteers will continue to support them during this overwhelming and difficult time.
The ability of The Addis Clinic to connect with a new partner and bring on a new and very specialized physician volunteer all within a matter of hours took the quick work of our entire team. We are grateful that so many people share in our passionate belief that telemedicine can successfully connect the world’s most underserved individuals with skilled and appropriate medical care.