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Dayne Logan, Editor.  Layout and Design by Kimber Whanger.  Comments or suggestions about our newsletter?   Contact us

Message from the President     PresidentMessage 


Welcome to the Fall 2014 Kybele newsletter. In September and October, we took teams to Armenia, Serbia, Romania and Ghana that involved 25 medical professionals from 5 countries. The programs have impacted healthcare throughout our host countries, and even surrounding countries, as we continue to monitor progress. Please be sure to read the highlights of each country update. In addition, we have 7 manuscripts that are in press, submitted or are in final preparation for peer reviewed journals.


One key to Kybele's success is our ability to leverage partnerships and collaboration. In the past few months, we have collaborated with organizations that include: East Meets West Foundation/Breath of Life, Access Bank, BBraun Serbia, Duke University Medical Center, Health Volunteers Overseas and Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center.  Partnership is synergistic and we can accomplish more together than alone.

In October, Ghana Health Service, PATH and Kybele representatives visit regional hospitals throughout Ghana.


Effective resource management is another key element to Kybele's success. We are proud that Kybele conducts all her activities virtually. In other words, we don't pay rent, electricity or water bills. This allows us to utilize our resources as efficiently as possible. In the past quarter, our volunteers have contributed thousands of dollars toward travel expense and hundreds of hours in professional time. Please consider these factors and become a Kybele member or remember us in year-end giving to support a worthy cause.


In conclusion, I'd like to quote an African proverb: "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." Please join us in the journey!

With appreciation, 

Medge Owen Sig 

Medge D. Owen, M.D., President - Kybele, Inc.

Professor of Obstetric Anesthesia - Director of Maternal and Infant Global Health Programs

Wake Forest University School of Medicine  |  336.713.9182  | 

In This Issue

Message from the President

Kybele Partners with Breath of Life Program in Ghana
Local Bank in Ghana is a Leader in Social Responsibility

Serbia Program Update

Thank You For Your Service - Board Members

Kybele Hosts Three Ghanaian NICU Nurses at Duke University Hospital

Kybele Signs Collaborative Agreement with Forsyth Medical Center

Armenia Program Update

Kybele and Health Volunteers Overseas Partner to Send Doctor to Ghana

Romania Program Update

In Memory of Dr. Jonathan Kumah

Kreating Change - Support Kybele with a Year-End Gift or Membership

Quick Links

Kybele Partners with Breath of Life Program in Ghana   BreathOfLife   

Last year, Kybele and East Meets West Foundation/Breath of Life began working together on raising the capacity of Ridge Regional Hospital in Accra, Ghana to reduce newborn mortality there. The Breath of Life program addresses the issue of infant mortality in Asia and Africa by donating appropriate neonatal medical equipment to hospitals, integrating those technologies into the existing medical system, working with the local health authorities to increase the capacity for newborn care and training medical staff in hospitals.


"The most difficult challenge for the Breath of Life program is the provision of training of medical staff especially at the onset of the program in a new region or country," said Dan Fitzpatrick, BOL regional director for West Africa. "It is not always easy to find highly qualified neonatologists and neonate nurses who are prepared to give up their time to come and train in a low-resource environment. That is one of the reasons we were so happy to work with Kybele - we were able to provide the equipment appropriate for newborn care in low-resource environments, and they were able to provide specialist newborn care medical staff. We were hugely impressed when they also included a respiratory therapist to train the NICU staff at Ridge."


But the partnership does begin and end there. Breath of Life's experience working with hospitals in 10 developing countries means that it knows what works in low-resource environments.  That experience has led BOL to donate appropriate equipment that does not require expensive consumables, is robust and is easy to learn how to use. Breath of Life is also attuned to the problems associated with adapting equipment to existing utility systems or the setting up sustainable repairing and servicing regimes.

Baby (in front) on a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
machine for respiratory support.


The combination of BOL's expertise and Kybele's long experience and relationship with Ridge Regional Hospital and the health authorities in Ghana as well as its expertise and knowledge on the clinical side, has made for real synergy between the organizations in Ghana. On the one hand, Kybele does not have to worry about equipment breaking down or running out of consumables; on the other, Breath of Life does not have to worry about skills atrophying because Kybele volunteers continue to mentor existing staff members several times a year and are providing hand-picked staff members the opportunity to spend a few weeks in a NICU in the USA alongside trainers who have experience in low-resource environments.  READ ON

Local Bank in Ghana is a Leader in Social Responsibility    AccessBank            

Kybele Team Members with employees of Access Bank.

Kybele recently approached Access Bank senior executives and Managing Director, Dolapo Ogundimu, with a request to assist in the renovation of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Ridge Regional Hospital in Accra, Ghana. Access Bank had already allocated funds to revamp the labor ward at Ridge Hospital as part of its employee contribution program, which designates funds donated by employees for worthwhile local causes.  Access Bank had exhausted their 2013 funds, but Kybele President, Dr. Medge Owen pleaded with the corporate team to consider one more initiative. 


 "It is wonderful that a mother can deliver her baby in a more comfortable facility, but it is even better for the woman to be able to take her baby home alive." said Owen 


The NICU at Ridge was desperately overcrowded and needed expansion to prevent infection and to accommodate live-saving machines that were to be donated by East Meets West Foundation's Breath of Life. In fact, the donation hinged on the successful completion of the expansion. Access Bank stepped in by providing a contractor and funds to complete the project. Within eight weeks, the project was complete. The NICU's capacity doubled, and equipment was donated to provide respiratory support for premature newborns. Kybele wishes to thank Access Bank for its commitment to serving the local community.


READ MORE about Access Bank.  

Serbia Program Update  Serbia            

Some of the Kybele team members and host staff in the labor and delivery area of the Klinika za Ginekologiju i Akuserstvo.

Serbian Team Returns for Third Visit to  

The Clinical Center of Vojvodina in Novi Sad, Serbia

Article submitted by Dr. Curtis Baysinger and Dr. Ivan Velickovic 


The Kybele Serbian team returned to Novi Sad, Serbia for its third visit in as many years. Hosted by the Clinical Center of Vojvodina, team members Ivan Velickovic, MD; Ferne Braveman, MD; Curtis Baysinger, MD; Sarah Foggi, MD; Medge Owen, MD; and Lawrence Fordjour, MD, built upon work that had occurred during the previous two years with host Dr. Borislava Pujic and other staff members. As in past years, a weekend conference (which attracted participants from Serbia and other Balkan countries) was followed by clinical instruction by Kybele team members. For the second year, lecturers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. participated during the weekend lecture course only.

Dr. Velickovic demonstrating epidural placement techniques.

In contrast to past years where the five days of the visit focused primarily on clinical practice by the staff at the Novi Sad Center, practitioners from the surrounding community also participated, with host staff acting as instructors.  Thirty-seven regional blocks for labor analgesia were performed, using equipment donated by BBraun Serbia.


Resident physicians who were rotating in obstetric anesthesia at the Novi Sad site were given hands-on training, as well as instruction

Epidural cart donated by Kybele. 

provided both by Kybele members and host staff. The training model of host staff acting as instructors for resident hands-on training is not the current model for residency education at the Clinical Center.  The training may significantly change the current training practices going forward.


Protocols for regional labor analgesia, regional anesthesia for cesarean section, and regional opioid analgesia were developed with the host staff and were put into practice. Two mobile carts for storing supplies for regional anesthesia were donated by Kybele and both were stocked with supplies by the host.


Suggestions for evidence-based practice were made to staff obstetricians and neonatologists to help improve resource utilization and patient care. Return visits are planned for June 2015 and September 2015.  


During the visit, Pujic and Velickovic were interviewed on Novi Sad's morning talk show "Good Morning Novi Sad" and discussed the partnership between the Novi Sad Center and Kybele as well as the progress toward increased use of regional analgesia.  


See MORE PHOTOS of this recent Serbia program. 

Thank You for Your Service - Board Members   BoardService     

The following three board members have served for numerous years on the Kybele board of directors and have rotated off the board.  We would like to sincerely thank them for the hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of service to our organization. Board service is a one of the most valuable contributions one can make to Kybele and the intellectual capital by our board members is invaluable.
It has been a privilege and an honor to work with these three outstanding volunteers.     

Helen Akinc
(Winston-Salem, N.C.)
For the past six years Helen has served as an active board member, vice president for business operations, newsletter editor, and Conflict of Interest Committee member. Her strong writing, networking, mentoring and communication skills; ability to bridge cultural divides; intelligence; and wit have guided us through strategic planning, project streamlining, fundraising, committee forming, hiring, and team leader summit organization.  Helen is a local board member, residing in Winston-Salem, and we look forward to her continued volunteer support from time to time. Thank you, Helen, for helping us stay focused on advancing the organization.

Virgil Manica, MD  (Boston, M.A.)
Virgil Manica has served on the board since 2007 and has been a team leader or co-team leader on programs in Romania, Republic of Georgia, and Armenia.  A native of Romania, Virgil is an OB Anesthesiologist at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.  Virgil has been a key player in initially developing these programs and has participated in numerous in-country conferences, lectures and training seminars.  He has also provided hands-on instruction, worked on networking and promotion, and helped to keep the Kybele store stocked with unique items from his travels abroad.  Virgil is an active member of the Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology (SOAP) and we look forward to his continued participation in the Romania/Moldolva programs.  Thank you, Virgil.

Robin Sizemore 
(High Point, N.C.)
Robin has been involved with Kybele since 2004 when she met Medge Owen in the labor unit as Medge administered an epidural to Robin. Having mentioned to Medge that she had two adopted children from The Republic of Georgia (where Kybele would eventually start a program), they sparked a friendship that has lasted more than a decade.  Robin is the executive director of Hopscotch Adoptions in High Point, N.C., and while serving on the board has helped Kybele network with key leaders in both Georgia and Armenia. Thank you, Robin, for helping open new doors for Kybele. 

Kybele Hosts Three Ghanaian NICU Nurses at Duke University Hospital  NICUNurses    

Article by Yemi Olufolabi, MD
Using simulation to learn about acute maternal care.

In October, Kybele had the opportunity to sponsor three NICU nurses/nurse managers from Ridge Regional Hospital in Accra, Ghana.  Partially funded through a multi-year grant from the PATH organization, nurses Rebecca Agyare Asante, Vivian Koffie, and Fauziya Rabiu were able to spend a two-week observership at Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C., and they definitely packed a lot into their visit. The women were able to visit the Duke Neonatal Unit and all related wards, the Duke simulation center, the education center, and the maternity operating room. They attended clinical meetings, a neonatal resuscitation training session,  in-service training for new staff nurses, and safety rounds.  They also visited with Dr. Lisa Washburn from Wake Forest Medical Center in Winston-Salem, where they discussed current protocols and improvement potential at Ridge Hospital. In addition, they visited the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill maternity center, which is operated by midwives.   

Neonatal resuscitation simulation.


During all of this observation, the Ridge nurses had extensive exposure to a system that prevented and treated infection in babies.  Given that new breathing methods (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure - CPAP) were recently introduced at Ridge Hospital, a special session with nurses and respiratory therapists on the CPAP machine proved highly educational. Other important observations involved infant feeding techniques, customer care best practices, and the environmental factors that nurture optimal brain development.  The Ridge nurses were impressed by the dedication of the Duke nurses and their intensity of focus while caring for babies. The meticulous and attentive approach in the management of each baby really stood out for them.

Finally arriving at Raleigh Airport and meeting Dr Olufolabi.


The Ridge nurses returned home excited and reassured that they could further raise standards of care at Ridge Hospital. They resolved to make changes that would improve outcomes.  As a result of their visit, they planned to incorporate changes by sharing their experiences with their colleagues and ensuring infection prevention became a priority, because it is one of the major causes of maternal and infant mortality. The nurses promised to improve customer care practices by engaging parents and improving communication among staff through the use of technology and by refining old protocols or developing new ones.

While their visit was jam-packed with educational experiences, the nurses also had the opportunity for some fun by attending a local festival, shopping, and visiting with local nurses and Kybele team members.  They said they were grateful to those who made their stay such a memorable experience, especially the Duke NICU nurses, Christine Phillips, Dr. Ron Goldberg, Kybele and Yemi and Lola Olufolabi, who hosted them in their home.

See MORE PHOTOS of the Ridge nurses' trip to North Carolina.

To the Duke NICU Team...      

Kybele Signs Collaboration Agreement with Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center Forsyth  

Kybele, Inc., is pleased to announce that it has entered a collaboration agreement with Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center specifically with the Novant Health Maya Angelou Women's Health and Wellness Center. The agreement was signed by Kybele's president Dr. Medge Owen and Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center president Denise B. Mihal on September 01, 2014. It outlines potential opportunities for collaboration on programs and activities.

Under the proposed agreement, the parties decided to promote increased cooperation and communication to reach beyond the boundries of the United States and identify host-country collaborations with the goal to improve healthcare and disease prevention for women.  The organizations will act as a resource for host-country collaborators that want clinical care and prevention programs.  They will also work with government agencies, non-government agencies, corporations and individuals in host countries to identify gender healthcare discrepancies and reduce the discrepancy gap

Armenia Program Update   Armenia          

Dr. Shahla Namak with Armenian physician.
The following brief summary of the Armenia program's progress was submitted by Co-Team Leader Dr. Gordon Yuill.
Kybele Team members have made five trips to Armenia so far.  Initial visits were paid to Yerevan (in 2006, 2010 and 2012), but more recent trips included stops in Gyumri (2012, 2013 and 2014), Akhuryan (2012, 2013, and 2014), Dilijan (2012), Ijevan (2012), Novemberian (2012), Karabakh (2013), Artik (2014), Matuni (2014), Gavar (2014), Sevan (2014), and Hrazdan (2014).  Each trip has consisted of a one-or-two-day national conference in Yerevan followed by small-team visits to individual maternity clinics, where Kybele volunteers worked alongside the local physicians.  Through this process we have seen an increase in the use of regional anesthesia for cesarean section throughout and an increased availability of epidural analgesia for labor in some units.    

Kybele and Health Volunteers Overseas Partner to Send Doctor to Ghana   HVOS           

Article submitted by Erin Pfeiffer
Amy Mauritz, MD

Kybele is excited to announce a new partnership with Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO). A long-standing Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization, HVO is dedicated to improving the availability and quality of health care in developing countries through the training and education of local health care providers. With their complementary visions, Kybele and HVO are teaming up to send Dr. Amy Mauritz as a volunteer to Kybele's Ghana project site in January 2015. Dr. Mauritz is completing her medical residency at Duke University and has received numerous distinctions, including honors in anesthesiology, family medicine and obstetrics and gynecology. She will be sponsored by HVO as a part of its Society for Education in Anesthesia Traveling Fellows program to focus on Kybele's quality improvement initiatives related to obstetric anesthesia at Ridge Regional Hospital in Ghana's capital, Accra.


Dr. Mauritz's passion for international health reaches back two generations to her grandmother and namesake, Amy Hayble Egberuare, who grew up in a poor family in rural Nigeria and was sent to England by missionaries in her village to be trained as a midwife. Upon returning to Nigeria, Dr. Mauritz's grandmother used her skills to...READ ON


Romania Program Update    Romania         

Dr. Manica gives 45 minute Radio Free Europe interview in Chishinew, Republic of Moldova on Kybele and his work in Romania and Moldova. Image 2013.

Dr. Virgil Manica, who is the team leader for our Romania project, gave this recent update on his work in Romania in September 2014.


"The visit to Suceava, Romania was quite successful. There has been a fantastic change in healthcare providers' practice of spinal vs. general anesthesia. The CEO of the hospital again organized a press conference attended by print, TV and radio reporters and together we presented the following results:


Prior to Kybele visiting this particular hospital, health workers were doing 95% of their cesearean sections (C/S) under general anesthesia. In 2013, out of a total of 3,176 births (1,394 Normal Spontaneous Vaginal Delivery NSVD and 1,782 C/S), there was a rate of 55% for C/S. They did 66% under spinal anesthesia and 34% with general anesthesia.


For the first eight months in 2014, out of 2,183 births, 1,180 were C/S for a rate of 54%. Of these C/S births, 88% were conducted using spinal anesthesia and only 12% using general anesthesia. I think the numbers speak for themselves."


Dr. Manica and his small Kybele team will continue to expand their work in Romania/Moldolva in 2015.

In Memory of Dr. Jonathan Kumah   Kumah  

Article submitted by Medge Owen


Kybele would like to acknowledge the passing of Dr. Jonathan Kumah. Kumah was a specialist physician anaesthetist we worked closely with at Ridge Regional Hospital in Accra, Ghana. He died on August 19, at age 52 after a brief illness. Dr. Kumah was a man of wisdom, vision and quiet determination. He started the recovery room and anesthesia pre-operative clinic at Ridge. However, his greatest achievement was the founding of the Nurse Anesthesia Training School in 2009. It was only the third such school in Ghana. Kumah wrote the proposal for the school and defended it through the highest ranks of the Health Ministry and the Ghana Health Service. Kybele was asked to assist in the curriculum development for the school, and that curriculum was later adopted as a national curriculum for all the nurse anesthesia schools in Ghana. Kumah served as head of the school from January 2009 until his untimely death. He is survived by his wife and four children. We express our deep condolences to Dr. Kumah's family, our Ridge family and to the Ghana Health Service.

Kreating Change:  Support Kybele with a Year-End Gift or Membership.   Kreating        

(Please be sure to fill out your name, email, phone and address so that we can properly contact you for questions and recognition.  Thank you for your support.) 

We Thank The Following for Their Support      

 PATH  |  Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology  |  The Obstetric Anaesthetists' Association     
The International Association for the Study of Pain  |   Novant Health  |  World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists   

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Kybele merchandise is on display at various events in the Winston-Salem, NC area.  Contact us if you are interested in purchasing merchandise or have an event that is appropriate for us to display/sell our items.


December 2nd   

Forsyth Medical Center
OB Anesthesiology Dept.


December 5th
Wake Forest University 
Medical Center Cafeteria
11:00 - 2:30pm

Board of Directors 

Medge Owen, MD

President & Founder

Frank James, MD 


Holly Muir, MD



Curtis Baysinger, MD 

Ronald George, MD 

Shannon Koontz 

Yemi Olufolabi, MD

Nancy Pearson, RN 

Rohit Ramaswamy, PhD  

Michael Rieker, CRNA

Melvin Seid, MD    

Leigh Stanfield



Sebnem Ucer

Accounts Manager


Kimber Whanger

Marketing & Admin


Erin Pfeiffer

Grants Manager


Lynn Snyder

Programs Coordinator


Sung Min Kim

Program Intern

Kybele Logo - Click Here to Learn More. 

Kybele, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)3 humanitarian organization dedicated to improving childbirth safety worldwide through educational partnerships. The role of Kybele is to bring professional medical teams into host countries, to work alongside doctors and nurses in their home hospitals, to improve healthcare standards. Kybele volunteers provide hands-on training in medical techniques during the actual care of patients in labor wards and in operating rooms. Kybele volunteers model teamwork and compassion in real life and death situations, sharing knowledge when it matters the most.
If you would like to nominate a person or person(s) for the Board of Directors or would like more information about Board or Committee Membership, please contact a board or staff member.
OUR VISION:  To significantly improve medical techniques and practices that create sustainable advancements in comfort and safety during childbirth for every woman and newborn in the geographical areas we serve.   3524 Yadkinville Road #124 Winston-Salem, NC 27106