June 24, 1994
Media Contact:Debbie Bangledorf
Phone: (410) 223-1731
E-mail: Dbangle@welchlink.welch.jhu.edu

In 1990, Hopkins anesthesiologist Robert McPherson visited a physician friend living in Ekaterinburg, Russia, just 1,200 miles east of Moscow. During that visit, he and Russian physician Andrew Belkin uncovered the benefits of each other's medical experiences. Now, they operate a trans-Atlantic trade of equipment, information and technology.

Last year, McPherson collected slightly used electrocardiogram, blood pressure and oxygen monitors. Though replaced by newer models here, they worked well, and were welcomed in six Russian neuro-intensive care units. The monitors quickly detect fluctuations in blood oxygen level, heart function and brain activity -- information never before available in Ekaterinburg hospitals.

In return, Belkin and his colleagues are sharing information about their computerized trauma emergency center and doctor-manned ambulance system for patients with severe head injuries. "In many ways, theirs is a system far advanced of our own," McPherson says.

Russian physicians are rich in knowledge, yet poor in supplies and equipment due to political and economic constraints, he explains. When touring medical centers there, he saw 2,000-bed hospitals housing 3,000 people, rationing of antibiotics and operating rooms crowded with three and four patients at a time. "Families often provided food and blankets, and turned to the black market for sterile supplies like bandages and needles.

"The need is so great, but delivery costs are prohibitive," says McPherson. He is currently looking for supporters to help finance the next shipment.

McPherson recently returned from his second trip to Ekaterinburg. Videotape of the Hopkins monitors in place and working is available.

-- JHMI --
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