Frank Molloy, ICU nurse volunteer transitions to staff

Monday July 16, 2007 10:53:39 PM

Frank Molloy, ICU Nurse EducatorAfter 24 trips and almost 500 operations over nine years in 11 developing countries, Frank Molloy’s passion for ICHF is blatantly unabashed. His passion and experience will be put to work in new ways when, starting October, 2007, he becomes ICHF’s full time Nurse Educator. He’s very excited to come “over the pond” to drive ICHF’s primary goal to make ourselves obsolete in the countries that we serve.

As a cardiac ICU nurse at Great Ormond St. Children’s Hospital, London, UK, and a frequent ICHF volunteer Frank loved his work, however, his greatest pleasure has been “to see teams across the globe develop skills and techniques to treat children themselves.” The ICHF medical teams are only on site for two weeks, “so the local team must handle whatever happens when we are not there …It’s so gratifying, when we return, not only to see healthy children and grateful parents, but also to see the increased confidence and skill of the local team. … If we are still providing the same level of assistance, to the same type of surgery 3-4 years after we started, we have to ask ourselves if we are really achieving our goals. The local centers must be able to not only execute the total surgery cycle but develop their own teams as well.” 

The learning is a two way process as Frank explains. “We, in the US, Canada and UK, have a lot to learn from developing countries. Resources are limited so local medical teams must be innovative. For example, in the west, it is not unusual for children to be on a ventilator for 12 to 24 hours after surgery. In developing countries, teams develop “fast track” management methods, limiting ventilation to less than two hours. These experiences are increasingly recognized and published as improvements in practice. Children can recover faster, and this can be safer and healthier. This and other practices can help reduce the cost for a single ICHF surgery from the US cost of around $30,000 per child to around $1,500 per child, with many going home two days after open heart surgery. We can’t impose de facto western medical standards [and costs] on local medical teams”, it is simply unaffordable and unsustainable.”

As part of his commitment, Frank is commencing, and seeking sponsorship for, his distance learning professional doctorate with Middlesex University in London. He’s taking the ICHF lessons learned and those of social scientists and educators to get, what he calls, “..the needed reflective thinking and writing..” to improve his own approach to ICU nursing and other learning opportunities such as team briefing and debriefing, teaching skills, and partnering with local centers. For example, Frank posits, “I don’t think we know yet the best way to achieve the optimal learning environment; there are many linguistic, cultural and resource differences among countries such as Pakistan, Dominican Republic and China. While we do not know yet what works best - what I am certain of is that open, self critical, reflective and academically rigorous evaluation is the best way to optimize our approach.
Through growing local solutions, nurturing local mentorship, team development and education partnerships, ICHF sponsors and donors can feel confident that their contributions will become increasingly self replicating through Frank’s part in focused education and training efforts. As rewarding as it is to see your contribution saving one child, imagine if you knew your donation was still helping children 20 years later!