The Justinian University Hospital in Cap Haitien, Haiti.

The Justinien University Hospital in Cap Haitien, Haiti.

Citizens of the World, in conjunction with the Lifebox Foundation and the Justinien University Hospital, recently provided an educational symposium to the medical community in Cap Haitien, Haiti.

The two day event, which took place December 6 & 7 explored pulse oximetry and safe surgery best practices.

Citizens of the World President, Lura Spears, and Bismarck area nurse anesthetist, Kelli Gabel, presented the symposium which included over 50 participating nurse anesthesia students, anesthesiology residents, nurses, nursing students, and hospital staff. Holding true to the Citizens of the World mission statement of “educating future educators” the first day of the symposium focused on developing a local faculty through a train-the-trainer approach with the aim of enhancing long-term anesthesia safety throughout the region.

Martine Dorsainvil, a third year resident in anesthesiology who served as a facilitator and translator, said “Bringing the Lifebox lectures and oximeter(s) to us will improve our work in the operating room.”


A Lifebox pulse oximetor

A Lifebox pulse oximeter being used in a recovery room setting.

A pulse oximeter is a simple device with a sensor that clips to a patient’s finger which measures the oxygen level in the blood. In surgery and recovery settings, accurately monitoring the oxygen in the blood can be the difference between life and death. Along with hands-on training into the pulse oximeter device, attendees explored the WHO Safer Surgery Checklist, which serves as a communication framework and checklist for safer surgeries. According to, in the last five years, the combination of equipment and training has reduced operating mortality rates by as much as 40% in target areas.

The second day of the workshop featured the previous day’s participants passing along their recently acquired knowledge to their peers. This daylong session culminated with each participant receiving their own portable Lifebox pulse oximeter and a certificate of completion.

While a standard device in United States operating rooms, adequate pulse oximetry equipment is rare in much of Haiti and other parts of the world. According to, pulse oximeters are missing from nearly 70,000 operating rooms across the world. The Lifebox pulse oximeters distributed at the workshop are specifically designed for low resource settings with a durable build and an array of powering options.

Dr. Calil Turenne, Medical Director of the Critical Care Unit at the hospital said, “The training that was provided this week is very important for us. It is a good opportunity for them (anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists and residents) to receive new knowledge about using a pulse oximeter.” He went on to say that it is critical that care providers view oxygen as a form of medicine itself.

This symposium stands as a successful collaboration between Citizens of the World and The Lifebox Foundation. The two entities met recently at the World Congress of Anesthesiologists (WCA) in Hong Kong and discovered how well their missions and goals aligned. While LIfebox has been working in Haiti since 2013, they had not been outside the capital city. This last week’s training in Cap Haitien represents the first such training outside of Port-au-Prince.

Dr. Bill Cleary, Co-founder of Citizens of the World stated, “We see this as an incredible opportunity to improve the safety and quality of surgical care in Haiti.”



Lura Spears, president of Citizens of the World Foundation, addresses a full classroom at the Justinien University Hospital.

Participants receive their certificate's on the second day of training.

Participants receive their certificates on the second day of training.

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