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Exporting health care

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23.10.2013 21:56

Exporting the best in American healthcare


Richard Kim, MD, YNHH cardiac surgeon, served as one of Dr. Morozov’s mentors during his Yale-New Haven fellowship

“In my field of work, you never stop studying or gaining new knowledge,” said Alexander Morozov, MD, a pediatric cardiac surgical resident from the Research Institute of Cardiology in St. Petersburg, Russia, and a recent fellow at Yale-New Haven Hospital. “Yale-New Haven is legendary. It’s one of the most famous medical centers in the world and I am so happy that it has provided me the opportunity to learn advanced technology and treatment of congenital heart disease while also offering me training in pediatric cardiac surgery.”

Dr. Morozov is among 10 Russian physicians who have participated in an intensive one-month cardiac fellowship at Yale-New Haven, which is sponsored by the Almazov Foundation of St. Petersburg and Yale-New Haven Hospital’s Heart and Vascular Center. The Almazov Foundation was created by Maria Prokudina, MD, PhD, a cardiologist from the Research Institute of Cardiology in St. Petersburg, to expand the expertise of young physicians by learning new techniques of their American counterparts that they can share with their Russian colleagues. 

The idea to create a global partnership first took seed nearly 13 years ago, when Michael Dewar, MD, an attending cardiovascular surgeon at Yale-New Haven Hospital, began spending a week of his yearly vacation as a medical missionary in St. Petersburg, helping train Russian cardiac surgeons in advanced surgical techniques.

“A friend of mine, Dr. Robert Jarrett, a Brookfield cardiologist and associate clinical professor at Yale School of Medicine, had done medical missions in China and Egypt and saw a need for experienced cardiovascular surgeons in St. Petersburg — a place where their cardiac surgical results were very poor — and he invited me to go along,” he said. “I view myself as a world citizen, and so I thought, ‘Why not?’”

In 1995, Dr. Dewar made his first trip to St. Petersburg. He spent the next 10 years leading surgeries with a team of Russian colleagues at St. George’s Hospital, part of the Research Institute of Cardiology.

Although they saw positive results from their medical efforts — a drop in mortality rates from 20 percent to 5 percent — Dr. Dewar felt limited by the traditional medical mission model: a small team of physicians, one perfusionist and a nurse — working at one foreign medical center for a restricted period of time.

“We were very happy with our surgical results, but we felt we weren’t breaking new ground,” said Dr. Dewar, who admits to not being fluent in Russian but knows enough to help him through more than 100 cardiac surgeries. “We felt constrained by working with the same group of Russian doctors and we wanted a way to increase our teaching capacity.” St. Petersburg, located in northwest Russia, is about the same size as New England and has a population of 4.5 million people, yet it has less than half the number of heart doctors that exist in New Haven County. After several trips to St. Petersburg, Dr. Dewar and two of his Russian colleagues began to think about ways to expand the educational programs between their two hospitals. During a dinner one evening, Dr. Dewar asked them, “Don’t you want to emigrate? They told me, ‘We’re Russians. If we don’t stay in Russia and help our people, who will?’ It was at that moment I became committed to find a way to enhance their medical education with short-term fellowships at an established first-rate medical center like Yale-New Haven,” said Dr. Dewar, who serves as coordinator of the intercontinental partnership. 

Last year, through the efforts of Drs. Dewar and Prokudina, Yale-New Haven Hospital partnered with the Almazov Foundation to offer eligible Russian physicians trained in cardiac surgery, anesthesia and/or cardiology, a one-month fellowship with full clinical privileges at Yale-New Haven Hospital. To date, this unique partnership has awarded 10 Russian fellows the opportunity to be clinically involved in cardiac surgery, cardiovascular medicine, anesthesiology, patient care and research. Each of the fellows underwent a selective application process that included fluency in English. All of the applicants come from northwest Russia. Over the years other specialists from Yale-New Haven have joined Dr. Dewar in helping their Russian colleagues in St. Petersburg. Among them is Peter Herbert, MD, chief of staff at Yale-New Haven, who visited last year. “This program has given many of us a sense of history, one which we did not appreciate when we were living it,” said Dr. Herbert. “We see the new Russia advancing cardiac care at an amazing pace and we are honored to be a part of this by providing Russian physicians a view of what is attainable. In the process we examine how we do things and better understand our own processes, so this is in no way one sided.”

“It has been a great opportunity for me to participate in the pediatric cardiac surgical training program at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital. This program allowed me to return home with new skills and an appreciation of the great minds and pioneers at Yale-New Haven. I am happy to have experienced the best in American health care,” said Dr. Morozov.

Source - Yale-New Haven Magazine