Nikki Blackwell

Bio

Nikki is an intensive care specialist who has spent many years dividing her work commitments between cardiothoracic ICU in Australia and humanitarian medical emergencies around the world. She stays sane by enjoying walks on the beach with Jeremy and Polie, and scuba diving whenever she gets the chance.


Fighting Ebola in Guinea

Life as a doctor in an Ebola treatment centre in West Africa
The medical non-governmental organisation ALIMA (Alliance for International Medical Action) in collaboration with the Guinean Ministry of Health opened and ran the Ebola treatment centre (ETC), in Nzerekore, Guinea during the recent outbreak of Ebola virus disease in West Africa. This paper will describe the issues faced in treatment of the evolving phases of the illness and the aero-medical evacuation of health workers with suspected Ebola virus disease. The difficulties of participating in a trial of experimental therapy during an epidemic of a highly contagious disease, with a terrified local population will be explored. An approach to working with the local community to optimise engagement and minimise stigma, to allow an appropriate public health response will be illustrated. Issues arising from ensuring safe handling and burial of corpses while maintaining respect and dignity for the dead person and their loved ones will be outlined. The stresses and strains of day to day life for the Ebola treatment team will also be shared. Sadly, the ETC has recently been re-opened due to a new cluster of cases.

Critical Care in Difficult Contexts

An account of a range of field experiences which illustrate the potential role of a critical care specialist in the common humanitarian emergencies

What paradigms should take precedence during a humanitarian emergency when the needs may overwhelm the resources, particularly in the early phase ?
Is it possible to resolve the tension between quality and quantity in a resource constrained situation ?
How has a changing geopolitical climate affected humanitarian medical action ?
Is there a rôle for a critical care specialist at all, when medical resources are simple and finite ?
What are the particular challenges of living and working together with a group of colleagues in an unfamiliar and stressful remote environment ?
What can be learned for critical care practice in resource rich settings from our colleagues working in resource constrained emergency situations ?
These, amongst other complex questions will be explored.


What paradigms should take precedence during a humanitarian emergency when the needs may overwhelm the resources, particularly in the early phase ?
Is it possible to resolve the tension between quality and quantity in a resource constrained situation ?
How has a changing geopolitical climate affected humanitarian medical action ?
Is there a rôle for a critical care specialist at all, when medical resources are simple and finite ?
What are the particular challenges of living and working together with a group of colleagues in an unfamiliar and stressful remote environment ?
What can be learned for critical care practice in resource rich settings from our colleagues working in resource constrained emergency situations ?
These, amongst other complex questions will be explored.



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