When Dr Mary-Anne Hartley arrived at Tintswalo Hospital, a 423-bed public hospital located in Acornhoek in Mpumalanga, as a volunteer with the Tshemba Foundation, the organisers of Dr Hartley’s visit, Tshemba’s medical director Professor John Gear and volunteer coordinator Rhian Twine, had no idea just how much value she would add to the local community.
All volunteers that give up their time to support district hospitals and clinics by sharing their expertise and skills add value, but sometimes there are unforeseen and additional benefits as well.
For example, Dr Hartley is a medical scientist and researcher focusing on ultrasonography. By immersing herself in Tintswalo’s realties, she was able to recognise the need for a portable ultrasound tool using artificial intelligence that can be used by any doctor at a district health level to support women during their pregnancies.
“Dr Hartley has found solutions that suit rural district care, delivering training around how to use the portable ultrasound to make diagnoses as well,” says Professor Gear.
“This is why volunteers are so powerful. By their nature, doctors, nurses and specialists who volunteer at rural district hospitals are passionate, innovative people. Dr Hartley is a perfect example. She arrived with passion and enthusiasm and a commitment to share the evolving benefits of high-tech interventions in low-tech settings.”
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