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Former trainee Dr Eric Nelson creates "virtual hospital" kit for cholera
July - August, 2008 | Volume 7, Issue 4
Eric J. Nelson with his CD kit.
One example of what the Fogarty International Clinical Research Scholars program can do lies inside a compact disc packet in the hands of
Dr. Eric J. Nelson, an alumnus from the second class of scholars sent abroad three years ago.
Nelson, who just got his Ph.D. in molecular biology from Tufts took time off from medical school in 2005 to accept a place in the program, which sent him to study in Bangladesh - a beacon to the rest of the world when it comes to fighting cholera.
Now, returning to complete medical school, Nelson visited Fogarty offices to show off his sideline - a multimedia ebook developed with friends for use by clinicians and other health workers to quickly diagnose and treat outbreaks of potentially deadly cholera and shigellosis. The CD contains a knowledge base, easy-to-follow instructions on how to set up an emergency hospital - a M*A*S*H for infectious disease disasters - and emphasizes practical, if not textbook, case studies to train those treating a large number of patients.
It is packaged as a CD with a slide show of graphics, professional narration and music that Nelson composed and played on his cello, along with a supply of foldout pocket cards for doctors, nurses and volunteers.
Nelson is one of six authors of the "virtual hospital" kit and worked largely
pro bono on behalf of the Cholera Outbreak Training and Shigellosis Program, funded by USAID, the International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) and the Swiss Tropical Institute.
"In an outbreak, the western style of care does not cope well," Nelson said. "With COTS, a medical staff will be able to train their team and get to work on stopping devastating diseases that should be limited to the history books."
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