New North American Team Leaders Join AMPATH Partnership in Kenya
Four North American physicians join the AMPATH partnership as new team leaders this summer and will work with their Kenyan counterparts at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) and Moi University School of Medicine to lead in the areas of medicine, pediatrics, surgery and reproductive health.
Faculty members from Indiana University School of Medicine and other AMPATH consortium members have served as full-time team leaders in Kenya since the advent of the Kenyan partnership in 1990. Drs. Marie Buitendyk, JoAnna Hunter-Squires, Caitrin Kelly and Donita Roettcher continue this commitment.
AMPATH team leaders provide clinical care and teach both Kenyan and North American students while also fulfilling research and administrative responsibilities. They typically serve for one year, though many have continued their involvement with AMPATH for additional years or in other global health leadership roles in both Kenya and at their home institutions.
Buitendyk attended medical school at McGill University in Montreal and competed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at McMaster University. She has completed a fellowship in maternal fetal medicine and global women’s health and equity at AMPATH consortium member University of Toronto. She looks forward to joining the team in Kenya in early September. “There is such a great collaboration among colleagues from all over North America and also at a local level. There have been some great initiatives in women’s health in particular. I’m very excited to become a part of this community,” she said.
Incoming surgical team leader Hunter-Squires also lauds the cooperative AMPATH environment. “Health care is challenging everywhere, but I do think that with collaboration, education, and some creativity, we can all make our field, and the lives of our patients better,” she said. Hunter-Squires attended IU School of Medicine and completed her general surgery residency at IU before completing a breast surgical oncology fellowship at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles. While at Cedars-Sinai, she worked with Dr. Armando Giuliano, the pioneer of sentinel lymph node biopsy for breast cancer and she hopes to introduce the procedure to her Kenyan colleagues and patients.
Kelly joins the IU faculty after completing her residency and a fellowship in global medicine at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital. As the medicine team leader, she will be fulfilling a long-term aspiration. “I have wanted to work with the AMPATH program since before I even started medical school. I admire the AMPATH program for its long-term commitment to creating a bidirectional global health partnership that puts patient care first,” she said. Kelly received her medical degree from Emory University and also has a master of public health degree in international health epidemiology from the University of Michigan. She has previous experience working in Kenya and speaks Swahili.
Indiana native Roettcher attended IU School of Medicine for medical school and residency and completed a two-month rotation in Eldoret as a pediatric resident. She views the pediatric team leader role as an opportunity to both teach and learn. “Being in Kenya and involved with AMPATH provides unique exposure from a different perspective on all aspects of medicine and health care. I have also always enjoyed teaching both medical learners as well as my patients and their families to enable them to take as much ownership of their health as possible. The team leader role covers the medical and teaching aspects I’m familiar with, while providing opportunities to learn about health systems on national, international and community levels in the context of a different culture,” she explained.
Each team leader brings a unique area of interest and potential growth to the AMPATH partnership based on their background and prior medical experience.
In addition to continuing the work of her predecessors, Buitendyk plans to start a project looking at various blood markers of preeclampsia and the potential to identify women at risk before they become sick. “I’m also very much looking forward to providing teaching in obstetrical ultrasound,” she added.
Hunter-Squires looks forward to working with her Kenyan colleagues in the MTRH Department of Surgery to develop protocols for improving cancer care. “We plan to start with obstructive jaundice and breast masses, two of the most common diagnoses seen on the surgical ward and clinic,” she said. She will also continue the work of prior surgical team leadership to grow the Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) program throughout western Kenya.
Kelly and Roettcher have already arrived and started their work in Eldoret. Kelly said she “enjoys the challenges of working in a resource-limited setting because it requires creative problem solving from the patient to the health system level. I always learn a lot from local practitioners and their expertise treating diseases that are less common in the United States.”
Similarly, Roettcher is interested in learning about how other cultures, belief systems and traditions guide health care decisions. She hopes to capitalize on this interest to determine how culture and understanding impact antimicrobial use and resistance. She will also examine the most effective way to provide patients’ parents with health care information through the weekly Sally Test Talks presented to parents at Shoe4Africa Children’s Hospital.
Team leaders live at IU House and provide orientation, information and serve as a resource for visiting learners, fellow faculty members and AMPATH guests.