Our diagnostic center will contain a full service medical laboratory and a comprehensive radiology department, including mammography and sonography. There will also be a blood draw station and a cardiovascular testing department. Associated with the diagnostics, the center will house a medical records department, and an Information Technology and Analysis department. By incorporating the following features, the center will also serve as a resource and facility for advancing other aspects of the mission.
In addition to daily diagnostic operations, certain diagnostic events will be offered to the public on a rotating basis in the Events Room, a large space divisible into 3 sections per needs. These events will feature free testing and education related to chronic diseases. For example, “Hypertension Day” would involve blood pressure screenings, with education and counseling available for follow up support. “Breast Cancer Day” would feature free mammograms. HIV programs will run almost continuously. Local providers affiliated with HealthLink for Africa will be active in the education and clinical aspects of these events. By repeatedly linking providers and patients within the forum of preventive activities, especially in an area where health care is avoided except in a health crisis, these events are expected to stimulate more preventive attitudes, behaviors and relationships. These events will also make it possible for the neediest patients to receive services without referrals.
A key component of our diagnostic center will include another large customizable space called the Inroad Center, which will be reserved for use by other organizations or agencies. This space will be flexible and can be rearranged for various purposes. For example, one small area might be sectioned off for a six-month or one-year program involving mostly field activity (outside of the center). Another section might be allotted for a clinical program by any collaborating agency. Some programs or organizations will be actively enlisted by HealthLink for Africa to use the Inroad Center to address priority health concerns in the area. Others may initiate contact with HealthLink for Africa to propose their own involvement. In either case, HealthLink for Africa dedicates support staff to facilitate the entry of other organizations into the region through the Inroad Center. The possibilities are endless.
Our relationship with area providers enhances physicians’ ability to practice to improved standards. By involving the doctors in our network and the medical records system, we begin to develop a “system” of sorts, with the diagnostic center as the centerpiece, and the network relationships as the tendrils into the population itself. These inroads can maximize penetration of our own subsequent programs, and facilitate efforts of others trying to reach these populations in need. The medical records system represents the first such standardized system in the area, and the physician contract maximizes data returns for purposes of research and education. The flow of data augments research and reporting capabilities, allowing any intervention effort to proceed in a more focused manner. A Provider Relations department at the HealthLink for Africa Diagnostic Facility will maintain contact with providers and remain available to providers for requests and for communications about events and outreach programs.
The Diagnostic Center will contain a communications room with internet access, teleconferencing and videoconferencing capabilities. This section will be used in many facets of our mission. Since we will employ and train mainly local people to staff the center, the CommLink will play a large role in the initial technical training by overseas experts, and also for assistance in repair and maintenance of equipment. It will also link providers to international colleagues, medical resources on-line, and other educational and professional exchanges and consultations. It would also be available for the patient-to-patient component of the Back Home HIV Outreach Program, allowing AIDS patients to support each other internationally.