ECHN’s Act of Kindness & Compassion Helps Woman from Libya

Apr 4, 2012 -  Eastern Connecticut Health Network (ECHN) recently showed why its health system and first-class medical team have earned a reputation for providing high-quality, compassionate health care. A critical surgical procedure was performed in February at Manchester Memorial Hospital on a 29-year-old woman from Libya who needed follow-up surgery after having been struck by a stray bullet last April during the Libyan Revolution against dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s regime.

The patient, Ms. Najah Masoud, of Bengazi, Libya, arrived in the United States with her brother in January through the humanitarian efforts of Dr. Aziza Omrani, an OB/GYN in Manchester, who is a native of Libya and a graduate of the University of Alfateh School of Medicine in Tripoli. Dr. Omrani had already received approval from ECHN’s medical staff last June to provide charity care for up to four Libyans who needed medical care in the U.S. that was unavailable in Libya due to the country’s unrest.

Masoud was in the wrong place at the wrong time one year ago, April 2011, when she was injured by a bullet fired into a crowd of bystanders from a passing vehicle. The bullet, which went through Masoud, caused considerable abdominal and intestinal trauma.

Masoud underwent surgery and was stabilized in Libya but required a bowel (intestinal) resection and a colostomy. After months recovering from the initial injury, Masoud was evacuated to Greece for further surgery. Unfortunately, the surgery was unsuccessful. She returned to Libya only to find Libyan hospitals overwhelmed by casualties because of the worsening civil war. Medical professionals, such as nurses from other countries, had fled Libya leaving the hospitals understaffed and limited to providing emergency care. The country was also coping with a health care system that was not advanced and struggling with a shortage of medical supplies.

Masoud ‘s brother, who had heard of Dr. Omrani’s humanitarian efforts in assisting Libyans, sent his sister’s medical report to her. Dr. Omrani submitted the report to the ECHN Active Medical staff in search of doctors willing to perform the surgery at no cost to the patient.

Dr. David Cherry and Dr. Amanda Ayers, two top physicians with ECHN who specialize in colon and rectal surgery, accepted the case and performed the successful four-hour corrective surgery and colostomy closure procedure on Masoud on February 9.

Ironically, Masoud’s surgery took place just one week prior to the one-year anniversary of the Libyan Revolution launched on February 17, 2011.

She was discharged from the hospital a week after the surgery and spent the next four weeks successfully recuperating nearby so she could continue to have access to postoperative care that is required after this type of surgery. Masoud was able to travel back to Libya in mid-March.

“I want to thank ECHN and its entire medical team – particularly Dr. Omrani – for their acts of kindness and compassion when I needed it the most. I received the best care from the minute I entered the hospital to the minute I was discharged,” said Masoud. “My sincere hope is for peace in Libya and to one day benefit from a health care system in my homeland that is like the one you have in the United States.”

“In June, I approached ECHN’s medical staff about the possibility of providing care to Libyans seeking medical care in the U.S.,” said Dr. Omrani. “I was overwhelmed by their level of professionalism and generosity when it came to their humanitarian gesture as well as their sincere willingness to help Libyans in search of high-quality health care. What we did for Najah clearly shows what ECHN stands for: we reach out to all people in need.”

“Helping people who are denied access to health care is most rewarding,” said Dr. Cherry. “Impacting a person’s quality of life in a positive way is what medical care is all about.” Dr. Cherry has a medical mission trip planned for later this year.

“I was proud to work side-by-side with Dr. Cherry to ensure the surgery went smoothly and was ultimately successful for Ms. Masoud’s full recovery from her injury,” said Dr. Ayers. “Not only was this surgery a big deal for her medically, it was also important and timely so that she could move on with her life.”

Dr. Cherry’s and Dr. Ayers’ practice, Colon & Rectal Surgeons of Greater Hartford, serves the ECHN community from offices located in South Windsor and Bloomfield. Dr. Omrani is a partner with Manchester OB/GYN Associates, PC of Manchester.

Dr. Omrani is appreciative of ECHN’s commitment to provide medical care to four Libyans. In addition to this particular case, Dr. Omrani also led an effort recently to provide much-needed medical care for a child from Libya.

In Fiscal Year 2011 (October 1, 2010 and ending on September 30, 2011), ECHN provided more than $5.6 million in charity care to residents residing in its 19-town service region in eastern Connecticut.

“We believe that charity care begins at home,” said Peter J. Karl, President and CEO of Eastern Connecticut Health Network. “However, when it is feasible and appropriate, we will participate in international humanitarian relief efforts to help those in search of the kind of quality health care they desperately need but are unable to find in their respective countries. This act of kindness by Dr. Omrani, Dr. Cherry, Dr. Ayers and our hospital staff is just another reason why we are very proud of what we do at ECHN.”

ECHN and its medical staff have a history of participating in humanitarian relief efforts in places throughout the world, including providing medical support in Central America, Southeast Asia and most recently the Republic of Haiti.

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