Document Type: Original Article
School of Nursing and Health Studies (SONHS), University of Miami, Florida, USA
Memorial Regional Hospital, Florida, USA
Introduction: For the past 7 years, a nursing school has conducted biannual medical missions in a virtually inaccessible area in Haiti. Each medical mission team provides primary care, pediatric and gynecological examinations for up to 6 days in the impoverished island nation.
Methods: To improve the safety of participants engaged in this humanitarian travel medicine endeavor and enhance efficiency, the United States National Incident Management System (NIMS) has been implemented as a framework. This integrated system has 5 components: (1) Preparedness, (2) Communication/Information Management, (3) Resource Management, (4) Command and Management, and (5) Ongoing Management/Maintenance. This system was originally designed for government agencies and non-governmental organizations responding to disasters and other global health emergencies. A structural plan using the framework can be implemented as an effective model for future international missions.
Results: Implementation of the framework increased efficiency. While missions previously averaged approximately 100 patients daily, after incorporation of NIMS, this figure rose to 140 patients. Additionally, student feedback indicated increases in perceptions of safety and security.
Conclusion: The NIMS framework applied by the Haiti medical missions team provided organizational structure and leadership for this humanitarian effort in travel medicine. Integrating NIMS into the mission has extended the outreach of global medical systems to the most rural areas of Haiti and improved care for vulnerable populations with limited access to healthcare. This framework may be used to assist other academic institutions organize safe and effective travel medicine endeavors.