Dr. Guitele Rahill, Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work, presents “Medical Intervention in Rural Haiti

On January 24th, 2014, Guitele J Rahill, Ph.D., Assistant professor of Social Work of the USF College of Behavioral and Community Sciences (http://socialwork.cbcs.usf.edu/facultyStaff/) presented “Medical Intervention in Rural Haiti” to an audience of University Of South Florida (USF) Professors, medical students and medical interns and community members at the Corpus Christi Church  at  9715 N. 56th Street Temple Terrace, Florida. Dr. Rahill was invited to do this presentation by Professor Javier Cuevas., Ph.D., Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology in the School of Basic Biomedical Sciences at the USF College of Medicine (http://health.usf.edu/medicine/mpp/profile.html?person_id=9804&Javier&Cuevas).

The purpose of Dr. Rahill’s presentation was to enhance cultural awareness of a team of USF physicians, professors, medical students, interns and community-based health care personnel to deliver culturally-pertinent medical services at a clinic in Dilaire, Haiti. Dr. Cuevas and his colleague Dr. Richard Rotzheim, along with clerical leadership and lay members of the congregation of Corpus Christi have previously led similar medical teams to Dilaire, treating 1,600 Patients in 4 Days following the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

A primary focus of Dr. Rahill’s presentation was to enhance audience members’ knowledge of traditional methods of engagement and rapport-building in the context of ethical and culturally competent health care for rural Haitians. Along those lines, Dr. Rahill covered topics such as 1) the centrality of proverbs and metaphors in engagement, screening and treatment of Haitian patients; 2) the importance of social, geographical and political context in shaping health beliefs, health practices and health outcomes; 3) the importance of encouraging Haitian patients’ agency and autonomy in the context of medicalized health care, and 4) symptom manifestation among Haitian youth and women.

The collaboration between Dr. Cuevas and Dr. Rahill is consistent with the USF Strategic Plan 2013-2018 goals of “delivering high-quality globally informed academic programs that prepare our graduates for leadership roles both at home and abroad” (http://www.ods.usf.edu/Plans/Strategic/docs/USF-Strategic-Plan-2013-2018.pdf ).

A natural development of the January 24th Corpus Christi event is the collaborative submission of an abstract to the 2014 American Public Health Association Conference (APHA). This abstract was developed with Dr. Rahill as the mentor, Devi Yalamanchili, MD (currently Doctor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at USF), and Ella Telcy, MBA, currently employed as a Clinic Coordinator in the Radiation and Oncology Department at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa. The abstract, entitled “Capacity Building and Health Promotion in Haiti: Two Case Studies of Local Community Practices and Waterborne Illnesses” is consistent with the 2014 theme of APHA Healthography: How where you live affects your health and well-being, and with the intent of the medical missions team to which Dr. Rahill presented on January 24th.