“In my role as a sonographer, I experience many emotions. Sonographers are considered photographers, storytellers, and therapists. I experience life, death, and everything in between through my patients. Some of the patients are repeaters because of serial echocardiograms and I get to know them personally.
From the moment I enter my echo department, I sense the urgency of daily orders. It is the triaging that becomes important. Understanding what is needed immediately versus a lower priority echo. I select the echoes that I feel are urgent and could change medical management to impact the patient. Utilizing the equipment (photographer), using critical thinking and assisting in informed medical decisions (storyteller) as well as providing the comforting word or smile (therapist) is part of the daily tasks I am to perform.
While in Rwanda, I provide expertise in teaching the physicians and nurses to do just as described above. Gaining the knowledge to know which images (pictures) to provide to the medical management teams (storyteller) and at the same time how to best support the patients they see.
This was my second volunteer trip in four months to Rwanda with Team Heart. That alone should illuminate my feelings regarding this organization and the great work they are doing. When an individual volunteers, what the expectation is versus what the individual gives and gets are two very different things. The interactions between doctors, patients, staff and oneself leaves an impression on one’s soul that no words could express. As a volunteer, I received more from the people of Rwanda than I felt I gave. Helping with patients, working with the physicians and nurses and being exposed to the culture of Rwanda creates the desire to do more. I am grateful every day for what I have, and I am more grateful for the enrichment that the people of Rwanda and Team Heart have shown me.”
Georgeanne Lammertin, Cardiac Sonographer
Note: Since 2014 Team Heart has been working with the Rwanda Biomedical Center to strengthen diagnostic skills of NCD caregivers in District Hospitals. Using a combination of lectures and hands-on skills sessions, sonographers who travel with Team Heart share their skills. It is important to identify patients earlier in their disease process, hoping to halt or delay progressing to require surgery, or select candidates for life-saving surgery. Often traveling to remote sites and working with basic machines, teaching opens the door to life saving care. We have been incredibly fortunate to have such skilled sonographers willing to share their expertise. They provide the heartbeat of our organization.