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

Shaping Tomorrow's Global Health Workforce 


This year, we chart progress in reaching the Millennium Development Goals established by the United Nations in 2000. Goals four and five call for a worldwide reduction in newborn and maternal mortality. Progress has been made; however, too many deaths still occur. There are an estimated at 298,000 maternal and 3.7 million neonatal deaths worldwide each year. Solutions are complex and require an in-depth understanding of issues at the crossroads of medicine, culture and socioeconomic status. Going forward, who will understand and address healthcare inequity? Kybele is working to find answers to that question through its active involvement in shaping tomorrow's global health leaders.

Dr. Sheel Todd (center) poses with nurse anesthesia
students at Ridge Regional Hospital.


Since Kybele's inception, almost 15 percent of its participants have been upper-level resident and fellow physicians. They have come from 15 institutions across four countries. They are at the peak of their medical knowledge acquisition yet remain impressionable and malleable. In a global health environment, they operate both as teacher and learner as they gain an understanding of real-world healthcare problems that too often result in unnecessary and untimely death. Our goal is to expose them to the issues, to stretch them, to change them and to launch global health as a platform for their life's work.


This issue is dedicated to the young physicians who aspire to the calling of global health. We will tell their stories and share some exciting news of future partnerships that will continue to build tomorrow's global health workforce.

With appreciation, 

Medge Owen Sig 

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

Professor of Obstetric Anesthesia

Director of Global Health, Novant Health Maya Angelou Women's Health and Wellness Center  

Wake Forest University School of Medicine  |  336.713.9182  | 

Lifebox and Kybele Partner with Armenian Society of Anaesthesiologists for Safer Surgery

Article by Sarah Kessler, Lifebox Foundation


Safe surgery can't bring back the millions of women who have lost their lives in childbirth, but it can change things for future generations.  


A recent study by Higashi and colleagues found that if quality surgery were universally available, a  tremendous number of maternal and neonatal diseases and surgical conditions in low-resource settings could be reduced - averting an estimated 21 million years of healthy life lost. But the necessary surgeries are few and far between and are not always conducted safely. 


Lifebox Foundation is a global NGO led by surgeon and author Atul Gawande. The organization works in more than 90 countries where healthcare workers often lack the resources and training they need to conduct safe surgery and anesthesia.

Pulse oximeter in action during a Cesearan section at a district
hospital in Rwanda.  Photo courtesy of Lifebox.



















Lifebox provides essential equipment and education in the World Health Organization's Surgical Safety Checklist. This intervention has been proven to reduce complications and mortality by more than 40 percent. 


In their first-ever joint project, Lifebox and Kybele are working in collaboration with the Armenian Society of Anaesthesiologists and Intensive Care Specialists and with support from the Armenian Ministry of Health on a project to make anesthesia safer. Lifebox is donating 100 essential oxygen monitors [pulse oximeters] that a Kybele team will deliver in September as part of a training workshop. The estimated value of the donation is $25,000.


This project won't only make childbirth safer for those mothers and babies whose last hope might be an emergency Caesarean section but will also support colleagues who are on the front line day after day.


Stay tuned for updates this fall.

Kybele Offers Global Health Experiences

During Residency

Article by Medge Owen 

OB anesthesia fellows, Dr. Matt Hatch (left) Wake Forest and Dr. Onyi Onuoha (right) University of Pennsylvania, help set up a donated anesthesia machine.


Global health opportunities offer unconventional educational experiences for senior-level resident and fellow physicians. They allow them the satisfaction of giving back as they share the medical knowledge they've rapidly accumulated. They are abreast of the latest concepts and ideas within their field of study and can contribute immensely to the training mission of the Kybele teams. For the past 10 years, Kybele has offered select institutions the opportunity to send their best residents and fellows into the field to become part of a multidisciplinary team of experts. The residents are assigned scholarly projects to complete or teaching responsibilities. The tables below represent the institutions from which most residents come and their various fields of study. To date, 15 institutions within four countries (U.S., Canada, England and Scotland) have sent their residents to join forces with Kybele. Even more institutions and organizations want to be a part in the future. Kybele will soon collaborate with the University of Saskatchewan's obstetrics and gynecology program in Saskatoon, Canada. Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO), a DC based non-profit, will also offer a Kybele site for their highly competitive Society of Education in Anesthesia's - HVO traveling fellowship.   



The residency programs benefit, as well. According to Dr. John Reynolds, Residency Program Director at Wake Forest Department of Anesthesiology: "Global Health opportunities have been a pivotal part of our program for more than a decade. From the outset, it is a powerful recruiting draw knowing that such an opportunity is developed within a program. Even though only a handful of residents may be able to apply or participate four years later, a great majority of applicants consider it a crucial elective opportunity when comparing programs. Those residents who do go abroad are forever changed by the experience."

Many of the resident physicians remain on board with Kybele once they graduate, and some even become program leaders or resident supervisors. One such example is
Dr. Matt Hatch, who traveled to Ghana with Kybele in 2012 as a Wake Forest OB anesthesia fellow. He is now a faculty member who supervises residents during their global health rotations with Kybele.   


"Having the opportunity to travel with Kybele as a resident was an incredibly powerful experience in preparation for a career as an anesthesiologist," Hatch says. "Teaching students, implementing projects [and] working in a new environment with different people and resources all require unique skills that are needed by a board-certified attending. Seeing and teaching anesthesia in a different and often resource-scarce setting forces residents to truly know the material they are studying and also to appreciate cultural differences in the practice of anesthesiology." READ ON

The Ghana Journals -  

The Ongoing Global Health Mission 

The following two essays are reprinted with permission from Duke Anesthesiology at Duke University School of Medicine. Chief Resident, Kayla Bryan, MD and Obstetric Anesthesia Fellow, Amy Mauritz, MD describe their trip to Africa as part of the ongoing Global Health mission of Duke Anesthesiology.
Dr. Kayla Bryan teaching TTE.


I had been looking forward to January 2015 for over a year, and I was not disappointed! I spent the month in Ghana, Africa, working as part of the Kybele team improving the care of maternity patients at Ridge Regional Hospital in the capital city of Accra. Each day at Ridge Hospital presented a new experience or a new challenge. Sitting in on OB morning reports and observing patient care on the wards and in the postanesthetic recovery units gave insight into the daily challenges experienced by all staff at the hospital. Medication and equipment shortages, staff shortages, power outages and patients' inability to pay are common occurrences that significantly impact maternal morbidity and mortality at Ridge

My project while at Ridge Regional Hospital centered around using bedside transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) in a low resource country to improve the care of critically ill maternity patients. We brought a portable ultrasound machine from the United States generously loaned to us by Sonosite with plans to perform echocardiography on patient volunteers.  


However, once I unpacked the ultrasound machine on that very first day at the hospital, many of the Ridge staff lined up as volunteers so we could practice TTE. We were amazed at the enthusiasm expressed by physicians, house staff, nurses and students alike! As the month passed, we continued performing echocardiography on both staff and patients improving our skills and teaching anesthetists, intensivists and nurses along the way.  READ MORE OF DR. BRYAN'S ESSAY.


Dr. Mauritz teaching nurse anesthetist
students the basics of spinal anatomy.


It has been more than two weeks since I returned from Ghana yet the sights and sounds of the capital city of Accra are so vivid in my mind that I feel like I just left yesterday. The four weeks I spent observing, learning and teaching at Ridge Regional Hospital in Accra, Ghana gave me the most formative and influential educational experiences I have had thus far in my anesthesia training. In my journey from medical school through fellowship I have seen many patients die, but I have never stared death in the face like I did in Ghana. I held a young mother's hand as she was spiraling towards an untimely demise. Her air hunger caused her to grip my hand with what little strength she had left as her eyes full or terror pleaded with mine to save her. Unfortunately due to a multitude of reasons beyond my control this young woman became another statistic. Another woman dead because she had pregnancy complications in a low resource country...


To be honest it was very hard to reconcile in my mind the abundance of resources we have at Duke to the scarcity of basic medical necessities that are available at Ridge. Observing this inequality was my harsh introduction into the difficulties associated with improving maternal mortality worldwide. Despite these obstacles, it was extremely satisfying to collaborate with dedicated local physicians, nurses and trainees to brainstorm and execute sustainable solutions that will work in their environment to put an end to preventable maternal deaths.  READ MORE OF DR. MAURITZ'S ESSAY

Update on Croatia Program

Article by Erin Pfeiffer


Dr. Dragica Kopic wins community award for her efforts as a safe childbirth advocate.

Kybele honors our Croatian host, Dr. Dragica Kopic, who was presented with the "Heart of Split Delivery Room" award during the 10-year anniversary celebration of the Club of Pregnant Women and the Parents of Split. Kopic is a leading obstetric anesthesiologist in Croatia and serves as a champion for the rights of women during childbirth. The University Hospital of Split has the largest number of deliveries in Croatia and through 2002 had performed no spinal anesthetics for Cesarean section. Instead, women were given general anesthesia and had no recall of their deliveries. Last year, the number of deliveries at the University Hospital in Split was 4,388; a total of 980 C-sections were performed, and 55 percent were done using regional anesthesia. This incredible transformation is largely due to the vision and leadership of Kopic, who despite barriers and obstacles, pushed for bringing an epidural service and regional anesthesia to women in her hospital. "I will not give up with efforts to change the attitude that women deserve a pain-free delivery," Kopic says.

A popular childbirth education class for
expecting parents in Split, Croatia.

Additionally, Kopic was instrumental in establishing the Club of Pregnant Women and Parents of Split and its project "Knowledge for Birth Without Fear." The club, founded as a nonprofit voluntary association of mothers in 2004, aims to use monthly lectures to increase the knowledge and skills of prospective parents and the quality of care provided by health professionals. Mothers themselves provide the impetus and continuing momentum for the club. They organize sessions on expectations of delivery, breathing and relaxation in childbirth, care for the newborn child, basics of breastfeeding and patients' rights. READ ON 



Dr. Kennedy Buntugu, A Man to Remember

Drs. Ken Buntugu (left) and his wife Pokua (right) are visited by Dr. Yemi Olufolabi (middle), Kybele Ghana Program Director.

Article by Medge Owen 


During the summer of 2014, while many of us lightheartedly took the ALS "Ice Bucket Challenge," a dear friend in Ghana was bravely fighting the relentless advance of ALS. Dr. Kennedy "Ken" Buntugu, age 46, died on October 20, 2014. His death left a tremendous void at Ridge Regional Hospital that remains to this day. He was one of only two consultant obstetricians in a hospital with over 9,000 deliveries. Medical knowledge and expertise aside, Ken was a leader who earned the respect of those around him. He was trusted and kind with a positive nature and a wonderful sense of humor.


Ken was born the eldest of nine children in the Upper East Region of Ghana. He excelled in his studies and earned a scholarship to study medicine in Ukraine. During his OBGYN residency at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Ken met Pokua, a gracious woman and an anesthesiologist. They married in 2001 and were blessed with three lovely children.  


We met Ken in 2008 when he was posted to Ridge Regional Hospital. We were quickly impressed with his strong work ethic and ability to stay calm under pressure. There were few resources within the hospital and many critically ill obstetric patients, so even though Ken was diagnosed with ALS in 2009, he continued working until March 2014 when it became difficult for him to walk. Ken bravely faced his illness and never wanted pity because he was a man of strong faith and trust in God. He will be remembered for his warm smile and genuine kindness to patients, staff members and Kybele volunteers alike. Ken, we miss you very much. May you rest in peace.

Welcome New Board Members

Article by Kimber Whanger

Dr. Curtis Baysinger 
Nancy Pearson 

Kybele would like to welcome and recognize the following new members who recently joined our Board of Directors. Even though Dr. Curtis Baysinger and Nancy Pearson, R.N., are new to the board, they are definitely not new faces to Kybele.

Baysinger is an associate professor of anesthesiology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. He is a longtime Kybele donor and also serves as the co-team leader for the Serbia project. Baysinger has traveled several times with Kybele, and we are delighted to have him in this leadership position.

Nancy Pearson is nurse manager of labor and delivery at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. Pearson has traveled multiple times as a team member for the Kybele Ghana project and has been an integral part of developing the triage training materials and teaching at Ridge Regional Hospital in Accra, Ghana. We are excited to have her enthusiastic ideas and leadership on the board. 

Meet Kybele Intern Sung Min Kim

Article by Erin Pfeiffer

Sung Min Kim 

Wake Forest School of Medicine medical student Sung Min Kim took a year off from her studies between undergrad and medical school to assist in Kybele's work toward improving childbirth outcomes in Ghana. In the following interview, Sung Min reflects on an experience that impacted both herself and the patients of Ridge Regional Hospital in Accra, Ghana.


Tell me a little about yourself and how you became interested in the medical field?


I was born in Seoul, Korea, and came to America when I was 3 years old. My brother and I grew up in a very traditional Korean household and began school without speaking a word of English. We acclimated through our schooling in North Carolina and eventually attended the NC School of Science and Math, which piqued my interest in science and medicine. I decided to go to Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., for my undergraduate studies and became involved in a student medical society. I had the opportunity to study abroad in Denmark with a program called Medical Practice and Policy, which allowed me to take a public health course called Health Beyond Borders. Through the connections there, I was able to travel to Uganda and Peru in subsequent summers to work with a program for preventable diseases that provides health education and screening to women in rural regions. I began to grow in my curiosity of what people were doing in rural, hard-to-access areas to improve health.


How did you first get involved with Kybele?


After I graduated from Wake Forest University, I had a friend who did a fundraiser party for Kybele. I was extremely interested in their work and their global research related to improving childbirth outcomes. I spoke with Dr. Medge Owen about my desire to participate in Kybele's work, and she mentioned the project in Ghana at Ridge Regional Hospital on quality improvement. I found Dr. Owen's mission really admirable and was so impressed by what she was able to do with little funding. She has a curiosity and determination of how health systems can be improved, which was a great inspiration. It gave me interest in doing something like that in the future.


So you spent the spring and summer of 2014 in Ghana with Kybele. What was your role there?


At Ridge Regional Hospital in Ghana's capital, I focused on quality-improvement data. I looked at how C-section delay time relates to maternal and neonate outcomes. This research brought to light the great need for Ridge Regional Hospital to implement quality-improvement research into their curriculum to improve patient safety and health outcomes. After that, we worked on several NICU baseline projects because they (Ridge Regional Hospital) were about to be donated several state-of-the-art CPAP machines. READ ON

Meet Dayne Logan, New Editor of the Kybele Newsletter


Dayne Logan works as an assistant professor of communication at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa, where he teaches primarily journalism and new media courses. Previously, he worked in the magazine and newspaper industries as a reporter, editor and app developer. Although classroom instruction is his primary focus, he remains a writer and editor at heart. He stays connected to his field by freelancing for clients such as Allstate Insurance, Bryn Mawr College and - most recently - Kybele.  


Dayne's work as editor of Kybele's e-newsletter allows him to keep his editing skills sharp while supporting a cause he believes in. It also gives him some nice real-world examples to inject into classroom discussions and assignments.


We're glad to have you Dayne! 

Kybele Holds Film Event in Durham, NC 

Article by Kimber Whanger

Documentary filmmakers Kathi Barnhill and Walidah Muhammad answer questions following thefilm showing of Frivolous Things.  Dr. Yemi Olufolabi (standing in blue) and Dr. Holly Muir alsogave a passionate lecture about Kybele's work in Ghana.


Last Spring, Kybele premiered a documentary film entitled "Frivolous Things" at the SOAP annual conference in Toronto. Since then, Kybele has held several other film showings to raise funds and spread the word of our work in Ghana and other countries.


On March 6, we were delighted to show the film to a new audience. Board Member and Kybele Team Leader Dr. Yemi Olufolabi and his wife, Lola, hosted the event at Exotique, LLC. Owned by the Olufolabis, Exotique is a fine-art gallery and gift shop in Durham, N.C., that features African items. Approximately 50 people attended the showing and subsequent lecture/discussion.


Kybele is grateful to the Olufolabis for their generous hospitality and support in hosting this event. If you find yourself in downtown Durham, be sure to stop at Exotique to thank them and to do some shopping.

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: Maya Angelou Women's Health and Wellness Center
World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists   |  Wake Forest Department of Anesthesiology 

Kybele would also like to recognize and thank all of our 2014 DONORS
and all those who have PARTICIPATED ON A KYBELE TEAM.
Your support is essential to our work and we greatly appreciate you.
(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.) 

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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.

May 13-16
SOAP Conference
Colorado Springs, CO


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


Dayne Logan


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.   3524 Yadkinville Road #124 Winston-Salem, NC 27106