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Empowering our Partners
We are working to optimize the workflow and clinical management of our partner teams. A key part of this process is putting essential information at the fingertips of front-line health workers.
We are currently developing the CCMT toolkit to help our partners streamline their clinical processes and document outcomes.
Eventually, the CCMT will help our partner’s transition to electronic medical records.
In producing the CCMT, TF seeks to promote complete, patient-centered cleft care in developing countries.
The toolkit will help teams assess their impact, participate in research, and share knowledge with the international cleft community. Patients will receive more efficient case management and more timely and appropriate care.
o Form standardization will be one of the most important – and difficult – steps of the process.
o Partner buy-in and commitment to change management is critical for project success.
o A standardized paper-based workflow must be implemented before seeking software-based solutions.
o Piloting the program has already improved teamwork and encouraged our partners to think critically about their processes.
Next Steps: Looking for your Help
We seek to exchange knowledge with teams with experienced in patient-centered, team-based management systems.
We want to hear from you!
o We will be documenting and sharing these findings with the broader cleft community.
o Over the next two years, we will pilot new clinical forms in project sites and roll out this system more widely.
Have you done something similar? How did it work? Want to get updates about this project?
Let us know in the comment section!
When a baby is born with cleft lip or palate, it’s vital that the attending medical team offers parents immediate support and information on care options.
Social workers and psychologists help new parents address any challenging circumstances or emotions they may be experiencing. For older children who have gone without cleft treatment, counselling helps overcome any negative experiences and helps them adjust to transformation.
However, the team at Yekatit 12 recognized the importance of social work for guiding patients and families through the treatment process and for equipping children with tools to adapt to school and community life.
Recently, a volunteer team from Toronto, including Farah Sheikh, Clinical Social Worker with SickKids and Adjunct Practice Professor, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto and TF Medical Advisory Committee Volunteer, visited Ethiopia to assess the team and provide training.
She was able to assist the Ethiopian team with their social work efforts.
“I had the opportunity to help facilitate the Parent Support Group for the Cleft lip and Palate (CLP) program at Yekatit. The mothers and children were inspiring,” Sheikh said. “I met the most amazing parents, most who travelled from remote villages to Addis – so that their child could have a CLP surgery.”
“The two main struggles are nutrition – children with cleft palates cannot create suction and therefore cannot breastfeed or drink from a traditional bottle, the other is the cultural stigma associated with a CLP,” she added. ”CLP is very stigmatizing, families can be isolated, many keep their children hidden until the surgery has happened – to protect them from hateful words. Most children with unrepaired cleft lip and palate do not attend school as the stigma and bullying is so severe. The long term psychological effects can be devastating.”
“This young man received his cleft palate repair at 18 years old. He completed University and now has a great job with the government. He is just one of the many determined and inspiring people I was able to meet,” said Sheikh.
“These are the inspiring teenagers I got to spend time with during a teen support group I helped facilitate,” said Sheikh.
Farah, far left, and Hirut Mengistu, far right, are pictured with patients. Hirut divides her time at Yekatit 12 between social work and speech therapy. She leads parent group discussions, provides counselling and intake services.
Photos courtesy of Farah Sheikh
Transforming Faces (TF), a Canadian charity that provides free multi-disciplinary cleft lip and palate care through local partners in developing countries, recently co-ordinated a medical training trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with Canadian volunteers from the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and University of Toronto.
Support from TF’s donors does not only fund surgeries and rehabilitation for children with cleft lip and palate in developing countries, but also provides training opportunities for local medical teams.
The volunteer team included: Farah Sheikh, Clinical Social Worker with SickKids and Adjunct Practice Professor, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto and TF Medical Advisory Committee Volunteer; Dr. Christopher Forrest, Chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery and the Medical Director of SickKids Centre for Craniofacial Care and Research; and Bryan Tompson, Orthodontist and Division Head of Orthodontics at SickKids.
On January 12, the volunteers travelled with Laura Lewis-Watts, TF’s Program Manager, to meet with the local team, give lectures to medical residents, and provide recommendations to optimize team care, treatment plans and clinical care for all patients.
“We are happy that our volunteers were able to guide and train the local team in Addis. It means a lot to us that they share our passion for comprehensive cleft care,” said Lewis-Watts.
TF has worked in partnership with Yekatit 12 Hospital in Addis Ababa since 2007. Yekatit, the only hospital in Ethiopia that provides multidisciplinary treatment for cleft lip and palate, provides reconstructive surgery, ENT, speech therapy, psychosocial support, dental care and orthodontics to children from all over the country.
Pictured: the SickKids team poses with our local medical team. Photo courtesy of Farah Sheikh.
“[This is] our last day in Addis Ababa at Yekatit Hospital. Loved every minute. This hospital is filled with kindness, love and hope. Inspiring,” said Sheikh.
These photos were taken during a Cleft Lip and Palate (CLP) Clinic Day. Photo courtesy of Farah Sheikh.
“I met the most amazing parents, most who travelled from remote villages to Addis – so that their child could have a CLP surgery. CLP is very stigmatizing, families can be isolated, many keep their children hidden until the surgery has happened – to protect them from hateful words. Most children with unrepaired CLP do not attend school as the stigma and bullying is so severe. The long term psychological effects can be devastating,” said Sheikh.
Although word is spreading about the cleft program at Yekatit, many patients come to the unit for the first time during late childhood and adolescence. The volunteers met a wide range of patients on their visit – from teenaged patients who have had primary surgery but now need additional procedures to patients who have never had their clefts repaired, including a 46 year-old man. The volunteer team observed his cleft repair.
“When he looked at his face for the first time after the repair, he said smiling, ‘My life begins today,’” recounted Dr. Forrest.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Chris Forrest
Transforming Faces is a Canadian charity that empowers local multidisciplinary medical teams to provide free comprehensive cleft lip and palate care for children and adults in developing countries. This allows children to live full, healthy lives. A private charitable foundation funds our low administrative costs so 100% of all donations are used to support and transform children’s lives.
Meet the TF Partners
We help thousands of children around the world because of our strong team of supporters, volunteers, community health partners and service providers in 7 developing countries. Meet our Partners!
Meet TF Staff
In addition to these dedicated individuals and organizations, our team is made up of staff who are passionately committed to achieving our mission. We’re a small – yet mighty – group based in Toronto. Meet our team!
Meet our Board
Our dedicated voluntary board of directors provides overall guidance and support for the implementation of Transforming Faces’ mandate. Meet our Board!
Meet the Medical Advisory Committee
We are grateful to our voluntary Medical Advisory Committee (MAC), which is made up of Canadian medical professionals interested in supporting our mandate. Meet our MAC members!
Dr. Arun B.Chitharanjan has been the Head of Orthodontics at Sri Ramachandra University in Chennai, India since 2005. He has also been the Vice Principal, Faculty of Dental Sciences, SRU since 2008.
The Department of Orthodontics at SRU has been a TF partner since 2007 and they have been successfully running and expanding the project since then.
Good oral hygiene is critical, as is the work of dentists and orthodontists in correcting the bite for healthy chewing, speaking and breathing. Continued dental assessments, oral health education, cleaning, extractions, and orthodontic treatment are vital to ensure that children maintain healthy teeth and are able to smile confidently.
“The role of the orthodontist starts right from the day the baby is born and lasts up to 10 to 15 years,” Dr Arun notes. ”When we get them at the right time, the treatment result at the end of the day is best.”
“In our country, a very high percentage of these individuals come from a low socio-economic status or from rural areas. If we do not go out and help them, many of them would be deprived of this treatment,” he notes.
The partnership in India has grown as more districts are seeking community-based rehabilitation (CBR). In India, a major barrier to providing comprehensive healthcare is the long distances and poor transportation for families living in rural areas. In response, the Speech and Dental departments at SRU teamed up to train CBR workers to provide basic follow up in their communities.
“What is unique about this project is that we go to the patient. All our patients are rural so we travel about 200 kilometres to treat these patients,” Dr. Arun notes. “We don’t monitor on a daily basis, because orthodontics is a slow-moving process, so we see them about once a month. But what needs to be done on a daily basis by the patient is basic oral hygiene. We will not be able to move teeth effectively if they teeth are not in a satisfactory state.”
CBR workers are trained to identify, screen, document and refer individuals to the hospital. They are also trained to provide basic speech correction services in a child’s home or school, under the supervision of a Speech Therapist.
As a result, the project has provided identification, referral, surgery, speech correction, dental and orthodontic care, to more than 300 children with cleft lip and palate.