February 2021 Newsletter

SOM Surgeon Works to Build Local Expertise in Guyana

A group of medical professionals poses in front of a signRodney Taylor, MD, MSPH has always had a passion for two things in life: travel and health care.

And through his work with Maryland ENT Abroad, he’s found a way to merge his two passions.

“I always wanted to do the work and give back internationally,” said Dr. Taylor, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery at the School of Medicine.

It was while studying medical science at Harvard University that Dr. Taylor first learned about the work of Dr. Paul Farmer and Dr. Jim Yong Kim, founders of Partners In Health, which collaborates with national governments to provide care and strengthen public health systems. In the group’s beginning, their focus was on treating people with HIV/AIDS in Haiti.

“I marveled at them traveling around the world taking care of patients,” Dr. Taylor said.

After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, he reached out to Dr. Kim to get involved. Before long, Dr. Taylor was going to Haiti every two to three months and connected with Haitian-trained physicians, nurses, and surgeons to expand care.

After many years of traveling with other groups, Dr. Taylor decided to form his own group from the University of Maryland, which lead to Maryland ENT Abroad.

Headshot of man in suitThe group’s first international experience was in 2015 when a team of attending surgeons, residents, anesthesiologists, CRNAs, and nurses traveled to Kenya. During the 10-day trip, the group focused on patients with head and neck cancer and thyroid disease, completing 39 surgeries.

Since that first trip, Dr. Taylor and Maryland ENT Abroad have traveled to Fiji, Vietnam, Uganda and now Guyana.

Dr. Taylor said the group’s work in Guyana is more sustainable due to its closer geographical location. A Canadian medical group identified Guyana as a country in need and Maryland ENT Abroad picked up from the Canadian team’s original lead.

“We continue to provide in Guyana where there’s need. We continue to boost their desire and effort to care for their patients long-term,” Dr. Taylor said.

A group from Maryland ENT Abroad was scheduled to go to Guyana this past summer, but the trip was postponed due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Before traveling to Guyana, Dr. Taylor and up to 20 other participants do a pre-trip needs assessment to know their capabilities and capacity. Once in country, they work with OR, PACU and pre-op nurses, as well as physicians, medical students, and social workers.

While in Guyana, Dr. Taylor sees both surgical and non-surgical patients, doing more than 30 surgeries and seeing 100 patients in just four days.

“It’s tiring, lots of hours, lots of details, no frills. But despite all of that, it’s incredibly reenergizing,” Dr. Taylor said. “It refreshes me with what made me go into medicine: educating, teaching, training.”

As a nonprofit, Maryland ENT Abroad is always looking for new grants and fundraising opportunities to fund their work. In the future, Dr. Taylor wants to bring medical professionals from Guyana to Baltimore.

To learn more about Maryland ENT Abroad, go to www.mentabroad.org.

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