New International Samaritan partnership takes Trinity Health doctors and residents to Ethiopia

A new partnership is being formed that brings Trinity Health physicians and residents to the capital city of Ethiopia for monthlong rotations at Alert Hospital. Dr. John Watt, MD, director of medical education for Trinity Health Ann Arbor and Livingston, is coordinating the partnership after traveling with International Samaritan to Ethiopia this past October. (Courtesy of International Samaritan)

ANN ARBOR — In a new partnership with International Samaritan, a select group of Trinity Health doctors and residents will be traveling to care for patients at a hospital in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, as part of the Trinity Health Ann Arbor residency program.

A new partnership is being formed that brings Trinity Health physicians and residents to the capital city of Ethiopia for monthlong rotations at Alert Hospital. Dr. John Watt, MD, director of medical education for Trinity Health Ann Arbor and Livingston, is coordinating the partnership after traveling with International Samaritan to Ethiopia this past October.

"This is a unique triple win — for people in Ethiopia, the doctors serving them, and our Samaritan Scholars who are working to make the world better," International Samaritan President Mike Tenbusch said.

International Samaritan has been working in Addis Ababa since 2014, offering a scholarship program (recipients are called Samaritan Scholars) and helping families that depend on the city's garbage dump for their survival and livelihood.

A team of Trinity Health doctors traveled with International Samaritan to Addis Ababa this past October to visit the area and explore the idea of a partnership for Trinity Health residents.

This spring, eight physicians and residents will be doing their first monthlong rotation in Addis Ababa. The team from Trinity Health will be stationed at Alert Hospital. Trinity Health plans to send small teams six times per year on rotations in the years ahead.

"We'll be providing extra people power for their overworked health system," Dr. Watt said.

Dr. Watt visited Alert Hospital with International Samaritan last fall. He said the partnership will allow his residents "to learn things they only see in textbooks."

"It was eye-opening for me," Dr. Watt said. "It will give our residents a new perspective on what the world is like and not just what we regularly see in America."

For example, Dr. Watt explained that in Ethiopia, the Trinity Health residents may see patients with typhoid fever, leprosy, measles, malaria and much more that they don't regularly see during a rotation in America.

"When you don't regularly see it and care for it, you don't remember it as well," Dr. Watt said. "This experience will be very beneficial educationally for our residents and it will also help the people in Addis Ababa, who often have to wait in a giant line to be seen by a doctor."

Along with working at Alert Hospital, during their rotation, the Trinity Health physicians and residents will spend a day caring for the people with whom International Samaritan works. These are people who live in or near the city's garbage dump and who make their living by picking through trash for recyclables.

"Sixty International Samaritan families underwent comprehensive check-ups when three generous doctors from Trinity Health visited last October," said Selam Kahsay, International Samaritan's health and wellness specialist in Ethiopia. "One of them, the mother of one of our young Samaritan Scholars, received a timely diagnosis that likely saved her life."

Kahsay explained that access to health care is one of the most pressing needs of the people she regularly works with near the garbage dump in Addis Ababa. This partnership enhances the foundation built when International Samaritan teamed up with the local health authority to build two wells, bringing fresh water to that community in 2020.

"I was really impressed with the International Samaritan team in Ethiopia," Dr. Watt said. "They are incredibly talented, and they work out of love for a community of some of the most resilient people I have ever met."

This news release was provided by International Samaritan.



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