Skip to content

Dr. Michael Girshin, Chief of Anesthesiology at New York City Health + Hospitals/ Metropolitan, recently went on a week-long medical mission to Kenya to help local medical providers improve gynecological services and healthcare for pregnant women.

In return, two of the medical professions he met in Kenya — Dr. Dan Munyuny and County Health Administrator Christine Akuto — visited Metropolitan and spent a day observing best medical practices in Metropolitan’s Operating Room and visiting with the hospital’s nursing corps.

“Part of the mission is teaching,” said Dr. Girshin, who has now undertaken 10 overseas medical missions. “We teach local doctors how to provide and improve OB/GYN care in the area.”

(from left) Dr. Michael Girshin; Dr. Dan Munyuny; Jo-Marie DiBattista, Senior Associate Director, Perioperative Services; Christine Akuto; Bless Zapanta, Associate Director of Perioperative Services; and Dr. Noreen Brennan, Chief Nurse

He led a three-person team that included Senior Resident Ashley Kydes and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Kristen Finazzo to the local hospital in West Pokot in western Kenya. The mission was sponsored by the nonprofit group Saving Mothers, which provides prenatal care in the developing world. The Kenyan hospital serves a community of 300,000 and handles more than 4,000 births a year.

Dr. Girshin said the availability of prenatal care is very limited in western Kenya, so his mission—working with an on-site coordinator from Saving Mothers — showed local doctors the value of early diagnostics like ultrasound and early admissions to limit the negative impacts of premature births.

“The focus was not on obstetrics, but the ‘gyn’ part,” Dr. Girshin said. “While we were there, we facilitated five emergency C-sections that had to be done right away.” In one case, a woman suffered a ruptured fallopian tube. “We were lucky to be there and do the surgery to save her life,” he said.

Dr. Girshin, a native of Moscow who served his residency and fellowship in the United States, has led previous medical missions to the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Peru and Vietnam. His goal, he said, is to “bring professional expertise to locals for the best modalities of care that can be provided at the site.” He said the missions also expose New York City medical residents to a different environment than what they experience in American hospitals.

“Our mission is one of professional giving and teaching,” he said.