Thanked for Service: Kybele Board Members

One of the most rewarding opportunities has come through serving on the Kybele board of directors for the past 10 years.   I am in awe of all that Kybele has accomplished under the devoted and visionary leadership of my dear friend Dr. Medge Owen.  Our first meeting, under the most stressful conditions, resulted in a deep friendship and collaboration to change women’s healthcare in labor and delivery’s regional anesthesia practice.  I’m so very proud of all that Kybele has done to change and save lives of the countless women and infants from many countries.  In particular, the countries where Hopscotch shares in vision and work to also change and sometimes save lives through intercountry adoption, have been the most meaningful experiences.  Thank you Medge and Kybele for this incredible journey we’ve shared together.  Robin 

Thanked for Service – Kybele Board Members 


The following three board members have served for numerous years on the Kybele board of directors and have rotated off the board.  We would like to sincerely thank them for the hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of service to our organization. Board service is a one of the most valuable contributions one can make to Kybele and the intellectual capital by our board members is invaluable. It has been a privilege and an honor to work with these three outstanding volunteers.    

6afe520031d99f1b768ba50186582910Helen Akinc (Winston-Salem, N.C.)

For the past six years Helen has served as an active board member, vice president for business operations, newsletter editor, and Conflict of Interest Committee member. Her strong writing, networking, mentoring and communication skills; ability to bridge cultural divides; intelligence; and wit have guided us through strategic planning, project streamlining, fundraising, committee forming, hiring, and team leader summit organization.  Helen is a local board member, residing in Winston-Salem, and we look forward to her continued volunteer support from time to time. Thank you, Helen, for helping us stay focused on advancing the organization.


0a8375428e8af92322a6393fbd1ab604 Virgil Manica, MD  (Boston, M.A.)

Virgil Manica has served on the board since 2007 and has been a team leader or co-team leader on programs in Romania, Republic of Georgia, and Armenia.  A native of Romania, Virgil is an OB Anesthesiologist at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.  Virgil has been a key player in initially developing these programs and has participated in numerous in-country conferences, lectures and training seminars.  He has also provided hands-on instruction, worked on networking and promotion, and helped to keep the Kybele store stocked with unique items from his travels abroad.  Virgil is an active member of the Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology (SOAP) and we look forward to his continued participation in the Romania/Moldolva programs.  Thank you, Virgil.


193ca4f0e988f7b385473929e636fd2a Robin Sizemore  (High Point, N.C.)

Robin has been involved with Kybele since 2004 when she met Medge Owen in the labor unit as Medge administered an epidural to Robin. Having mentioned to Medge that she had two adopted children from The Republic of Georgia (where Kybele would eventually start a program), they sparked a friendship that has lasted more than a decade.  Robin is the executive director of Hopscotch Adoptions in High Point, N.C., and while serving on the board has helped Kybele network with key leaders in both Georgia and Armenia. Thank you, Robin, for helping open new doors for Kybele.


News from Armenia: Kybele’s 5th Teaching Visits Continue to Advance Women’s Healthcare

The following brief summary of the Armenia program’s progress was submitted by Co-Team Leader Dr. Gordon Yuill.

246252d7b43f1ace981c3a74fd7776b3 Kybele Team members have made five trips to Armenia so far.  Initial visits were paid to Yerevan (in 2006, 2010 and 2012), but more recent trips included stops in Gyumri (2012, 2013 and 2014), Akhuryan (2012, 2013, and 2014), Dilijan (2012), Ijevan (2012), Novemberian (2012), Karabakh (2013), Artik (2014), Matuni (2014), Gavar (2014), Sevan (2014), and Hrazdan (2014).  Each trip has consisted of a one-or-two-day national conference in Yerevan followed by small-team visits to individual maternity clinics, where Kybele volunteers worked alongside the local physicians.  Through this process we have seen an increase in the use of regional anesthesia for cesarean section throughout and an increased availability of epidural analgesia for labor in some units.   

News from Ghana: Kybele Sponsored Three Nurse Managers of Ridge Regional Hospital, Ghana

Article by Yemi Olufolabi, MD

Using simulation to learn about acute maternal care.

In October, Kybele had the opportunity to sponsor three NICU nurses/nurse managers from Ridge Regional Hospital in Accra, Ghana.  Partially funded through a multi-year grant from the PATH organization, nurses Rebecca Agyare Asante, Vivian Koffie, and Fauziya Rabiu were able to spend a two-week observership at Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C., and they definitely packed a lot into their visit. The women were able to visit the Duke Neonatal Unit and all related wards, the Duke simulation center, the education center, and the maternity operating room. They attended clinical meetings, a neonatal resuscitation training session,  in-service training for new staff nurses, and safety rounds.  They also visited with Dr. Lisa Washburn from Wake Forest Medical Center in Winston-Salem, where they discussed current protocols and improvement potential at Ridge Hospital. In addition, they visited the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill maternity center, which is operated by midwives.  

Neonatal resuscitation simulation.

During all of this observation, the Ridge nurses had extensive exposure to a system that prevented and treated infection in babies.  Given that new breathing methods (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure – CPAP) were recently introduced at Ridge Hospital, a special session with nurses and respiratory therapists on the CPAP machine proved highly educational. Other important observations involved infant feeding techniques, customer care best practices, and the environmental factors that nurture optimal brain development.  The Ridge nurses were impressed by the dedication of the Duke nurses and their intensity of focus while caring for babies. The meticulous and attentive approach in the management of each baby really stood out for them.

Finally arriving at Raleigh Airport and meeting Dr Olufolabi.

The Ridge nurses returned home excited and reassured that they could further raise standards of care at Ridge Hospital. They resolved to make changes that would improve outcomes.  As a result of their visit, they planned to incorporate changes by sharing their experiences with their colleagues and ensuring infection prevention became a priority, because it is one of the major causes of maternal and infant mortality. The nurses promised to improve customer care practices by engaging parents and improving communication among staff through the use of technology and by refining old protocols or developing new ones.

While their visit was jam-packed with educational experiences, the nurses also had the opportunity for some fun by attending a local festival, shopping, and visiting with local nurses and Kybele team members.  They said they were grateful to those who made their stay such a memorable experience, especially the Duke NICU nurses, Christine Phillips, Dr. Ron Goldberg, Kybele and Yemi and Lola Olufolabi, who hosted them in their home.

See MORE PHOTOS of the Ridge nurses’ trip to North Carolina.

News from Serbia: The Kybele Serbian team returned to Novi Sad, Serbia for its third visit!

Some of the Kybele team members and host staff in the labor and delivery area of the Klinika za Ginekologiju i Akuserstvo.

Serbian Team Returns for Third Visit to  The Clinical Center of Vojvodina in Novi Sad, Serbia

Article submitted by Dr. Curtis Baysinger and Dr. Ivan Velickovic

The Kybele Serbian team returned to Novi Sad, Serbia for its third visit in as many years. Hosted by the Clinical Center of Vojvodina, team members Ivan Velickovic, MD; Ferne Braveman, MD; Curtis Baysinger, MD; Sarah Foggi, MD; Medge Owen, MD; and Lawrence Fordjour, MD, built upon work that had occurred during the previous two years with host Dr. Borislava Pujic and other staff members. As in past years, a weekend conference (which attracted participants from Serbia and other Balkan countries) was followed by clinical instruction by Kybele team members. For the second year, lecturers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. participated during the weekend lecture course only.

Dr. Velickovic demonstrating epidural placement techniques.

In contrast to past years where the five days of the visit focused primarily on clinical practice by the staff at the Novi Sad Center, practitioners from the surrounding community also participated, with host staff acting as instructors.  Thirty-seven regional blocks for labor analgesia were performed, using equipment donated by BBraun Serbia.

56f08ee9fbc65ee79e59edb7d86f6a3f Resident physicians who were rotating in obstetric anesthesia at the Novi Sad site were given hands-on training, as well as instruction provided both by Kybele members and host staff. The training model of host staff acting as instructors for resident hands-on training is not the current model for residency education at the Clinical Center.  The training may significantly change the current training practices going forward.

Protocols for regional labor analgesia, regional anesthesia for cesarean section, and regional opioid analgesia were developed with the host staff and were put into practice. Two mobile carts for storing supplies for regional anesthesia were donated by Kybele and both were stocked with supplies by the host.

Suggestions for evidence-based practice were made to staff obstetricians and neonatologists to help improve resource utilization and patient care. Return visits are planned for June 2015 and September 2015. 

During the visit, Pujic and Velickovic were interviewed on Novi Sad’s morning talk show "Good Morning Novi Sad" and discussed the partnership between the Novi Sad Center and Kybele as well as the progress toward increased use of regional analgesia. 

See MORE PHOTOS of this recent Serbia program.

Kybele, Inc in action in Ghana


See Video.

Bow Ties and BBQ: Only 5 DAYS Left to Register!


  • Kybele has recruited more than 220 volunteers to participate in medical training programs in 11 countries.  These professionals have come from over 70 different institutions worldwide with the vast majority traveling multiple times to volunteer their time and medical expertise.
  • Nearly 50% of these volunteers have come from North Carolina hospitals.
  • The work Kybele has done for the past 5 years in Accra, Ghana has significantly reduced both infant and maternal mortality in a leading regional hospital.
  • Kybele’s work has been published dozens of times in national/international medical journals, books, and publications.
  • Our programs are making a TRUE DIFFERENCE in the lives of women and children in our program countries.  National medical protocols are being changed.  Lives are being saved.  Women are experiencing a more compassionate, safe, and successful childbirth experience.

Here is what you can do to support this effort….

If you are in the Winston-Salem/Greensboro/Raleigh/Durham area:

Register for this event by August 10th.  We guarantee a great time.

$60 for Adults  |  $35 for Medical Residents/Students  |  $20 for Children 12 & under

Click to learn more or to register.

If you are not in the local area – PLEASE consider making a donation on behalf of this event or become a member or monthly donor.

Why Kybele?

Source: Larry Hatteberg

This is an organization I am so very proud to serve as a member of the board and former team member to Georgia and Armenia. I hope you’ll find time to view this video and learn more about my friend Dr. Medge Owen and Kybele!

September 2010 – Award winning videographer, Larry Hatteberg, traveled to Ghana with Kybele to highlight the work of Dr. Medge Owen and the Kybele Team. This video was part of a two-part series shown on local Kansas television.

Kybele E-News, Fall 2012

Greetings from Down Under! I had the pleasure of recently representing Kybele at the 71stNational Scientific Congress of the Australian Society of Anaesthetists’ meeting held in Hobart, Tasmania September 28-October 2, 2012. The theme of the meeting, “Pushing the Boundaries”, was indeed that, as friends and distinguished speakers from across the globe came to discuss improving healthcare standards in low and middle resource settings.

Prior to traveling to Hobart, I attended the 3rd “Global Burden of Surgical Disease” meeting in Melbourne. The goal of the meeting was to assemble surgeons, anesthesiologists, policy makers and others to discuss challenges facing surgery and anesthesia in developing countries.

On a global scale, few people actually receive the surgery they need, including emergency cesarean section and obstetric care, resulting in premature death and disability.  This gravely impacts the individual family, as well as society, in many parts of the world.

On a global scale, few people actually receive the surgery they need, including emergency cesarean section and obstetric care, resulting in premature death and disability.  This gravely impacts the individual family, as well as society, in many parts of the world.

Both venues offered rich opportunities for networking with other organizations and individuals passionate about improving the quality and capacity of global health. As a community, we need to learn and discuss which interventions really work! In September 2013, Kybele will have the opportunity to help shape a future interdisciplinary global health meeting as the Alliance for Surgery and Anesthesia Presence will be organized by Kybele secretary, Dr. Holly Muir, at Duke University Medical Center.

Stay tuned.

Medge Owen, President
Kybele, Inc.

Read more…

Becoming A Kybele Monthly Donor

Consider supporting 50@50 Campaign to support the work of Kybele serving women around the world and specifically in Armenia too. Check out the link.  I am so proud to serve on the board and have witnessed firsthand immense changes in how women in labor and delivery have been benefited from training peer physicians in regional anesthesia and infant resuscitation – changing lives and changing women’s health care globally.

Ghana’s Grand Opening of A New Obstetric Operating Room

Ridge Regional Hospital was just voted “Best Hospital” in the Greater Accra Region due to the performance of the obstetrics department. Emmanuel Srofenyoh, Kybele’s local champion, will receive special acknowledgement during the Opening Ceremony. Needless to say, this is wonderful. Ridge had a tragic track record just 5 years ago when Kybele started collaboration. Kybele chose the right local champion and Kybele’s role in advocacy has been pivotal. Kybele will continue to cheer Ridge forward, as the standard bearer, for institutions throughout Ghana.

Kybele’s Dr. Medge Owen and Dr. Yemi Olufolabi will return to Ghana next week for the opening of the new obstetric operating room.

Honored guests to include:

  • Dr. Obeng Apori, Medical Director of Ridge Hospital
  • Dr. Emmanuel Srofenyoh, Director of Clinical Services of Ridge Hospital
  • Ernestina Naadu Mills, First Lady of Ghana and Guest of Honour
  • Mrs. Nagwa Kattah, President of GIWC
  • Dr. Medge Owen, Founder of Kybele Inc.
  • Donald Teitelbaum, US Ambassador to Ghana

Congratulations to all of the team members that made this immense positive impact on the lives of so many Ghanaian women and children.

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