Keys to a successful partnership: WFH Twins of the year

The Hemophilia Organization and Hemophilia Treatment Centre Twinning committees are tasked with a difficult job each January. While reviewing the long list of Twinning annual reports, they put forward nominations and vote for the Twins of the Year award.

With a long list of accomplishments from all entries, selecting the winners of the awards comes down to how the Twins operated and what legacy they leave behind after the program is complete.

The 2014 Twins of the Year award recognizes the achievements of Arequipa (Peru) – Los Angeles (USA) for the Hemophilia Treatment Centre Twins and Nicaragua – Quebec, Canada for the Hemophilia Organization Twins.

Arequipa and Los Angeles completed their four year Twinning partnership in December 2014, leaving behind an impressive legacy of improved care and treatment for patients in Peru.  The primary objective of this Twinning was to establish a multi-disciplinary team at the Arequipa center.  They now have a complete team of health professionals that are trained in proper management of patients with hemophilia and other bleeding disorders.

2014 was an important year in the Nicaragua – Quebec partnership. It resulted in the inauguration of the NMO office, establishing a fully functional office space to support the community. Capacity building activities were organized for the board of directors and a strong focus on educational activities was maintained.

There are clear factors that lead to a successful Twinning partnership. Dedication and commitment are critical. Developing a strong support network through effective teamwork is important. The partners in Arequipa and Los Angeles described how their success relied on all the partners involved, including: physicians, nurses, physical therapists, hospital administrators and members of the patient organization.

“Despite the language differences, our communication was constant. This was especially a great opportunity to learn from some of the most important people in the field of hemophilia,” said Willy Quiñones, MD, Peruvian hematologist.

All four of the Twins of the Year partners named communication as the number one competency that is essential in a Twinning.  Although many challenges will present themselves, navigating through the language barriers and cultural differences proves to be rewarding.  Mutual respect goes a long way in terms of fostering open communication and building strong working relationships.

For Hemophilia Treatment Centers and Hemophilia Organizations that might be interested in Twinning, the Twins of the Year winners have words of advice to share.  Start with a clear understanding of the time and work that is needed to commit to the program.  The main piece of advice offered by the Los Angeles Twin “is to develop a clear and achievable plan for the Twinning program and to adhere to the plan religiously.”  Arequipa and Nicaragua referred to similar scenarios of adapting the way you work to the reality on the ground in the emerging country.

Teamwork, communication, respect, support and setting realistic goals are more than just a laundry list of skills.  Putting these skills into action will result in a strong partnership and improved conditions for the primary beneficiaries, the patients.

Dr. Guy Young from Los Angeles says it succinctly:  “I am proud of so much, but mostly the commitment of our colleagues to really improve the care of their patients.  They really put a lot of thought and energy into this program and the results show.”

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The Twinning program is supported by exclusive funding from Pfizer.