Out of Africa

In the middle of nowhere, in a city with limited running water, much less health care, Suzan Miller-Hoover, a pediatric clinical nurse specialist in cardiology and intensive care, is living the Banner Health mission. She is making a difference in patients’ lives by helping to open the first specialized heart hospital for children in Ethiopia, Africa.

nurses-ethiopiaMiller-Hoover is partnering with Healing the Children, an organization that typically brings youth from third world countries to Banner Children’s for surgery. Now, instead of bringing the children to Banner Children’s, Banner Children’s has gone to the children with Miller-Hoover and two non-Banner associates finishing up the facility in the hopes of having the first surgery this year.

According to Miller-Hoover, it was almost four years ago she was first approached about the Ethiopia heart hospital project. ”In Ethiopia, children with congenital heart problems have to be flown to other European countries to have surgery or face death,” said Miller-Hoover, a Banner Children’s nurse for the past 5 years. “This new hospital will help to save children’s lives.”

Miller-Hoover was first approached for her teaching expertise.

“I provided materials for the pediatric cardiac classes I teach here at Banner,” Miller-Hoover said.  “I never thought I would travel to Ethiopia to actually teach their nurses. Before October, I had never been outside of the United States except to Mexico!”

In October, Miller-Hoover spent four weeks in Ethiopia with other Healing the Children representatives to prepare the heart hospital’s 24 future nurses, director of nursing and chief executive officer (CEO) on everything from taking care of the children and their families to understanding the necessary equipment and how to use it.

Miller-Hoover, now a member of the Healing the Children board, will return to Ethiopia for the hospital grand opening this Spring. Ethiopia is a country of approximately 75 million people and almost twice the size of Texas, which is why having this hospital open, and be successful, is so important.

“We pretty much had to start from scratch so to be there for the first surgery will be very exciting,” said Miller-Hoover. “The country doesn’t offer specialized health education for nurses, such as training in pediatric cardiology. We have changed that.”

In addition to training, Miller-Hoover has been instrumental in gathering funding and equipment to help open the new hospital. The hospital will run on donations, both monetary and equipment.