Sierra Leone--STARFISH Faculty Development

STARFISH (Society Taking Active Responsibility for International Self-Help) was incorporated as a humanitarian, volunteer, non-profit organization in Dayton, Ohio, in 1986. Its founder/initiator, Joseph Giardullo, has been employed as a faculty member in the Sinclair Nursing Program since 1984.

The primary thrust of the STARFISH effort since its inception has been to provide health education and health services to the population of selected areas of Sierra Leone, West Africa. Funded primarily through corporate and individual sponsors, as well as Nord Resources, a local corporation with holdings and operations in Sierra Leone, the STARFISH project is having an increasingly positive effect on the health and welfare of the people it serves.

To date, though providing no direct funding to the STARFISH operation, Sinclair Community College, nonetheless, has provided numerous types of indirect support for this most worthwhile project.

In addition, faculty and students from Sinclair's Allied Health Division recruited by Mr. Giardullo have, on a totally voluntary basis during the summer vacation period, been enthusiastic contributors to the continuing development and success of STARFISH. Evidence of this involvement includes the presence of a functioning Dental Clinic, the vestiges of which go back to 1988 with the arrival of the first Sinclair Dental Hygienist in Sierra Leone. In 1989, using donated equipment from Dayton area hospitals, which was transported to West Africa free of charge, a diagnostic Radiologic Service Laboratory was established by a faculty member from Sinclair's Radiology Program. Return visits, which included other Radiology faculty and students, were also completed in 1990, 1991 and 1992 to further develop this facility and to educate personnel.

The summer of 1990 involved additional Sinclair faculty and students and resulted in the establishment of a Medical Diagnostic Laboratory and the development of a Medical Records system to track the care, treatment, and progress of those receiving services in this ever-enlarging health complex.

Additional activities in 1991 involved faculty from the Surgical Technology Program who "set up" a small Surgical Unit to accommodate minor surgery needs. Also included during this 1991 interval were faculty from Sinclair's Nursing Program who provided in-service training and education in a variety of critical topic areas to Sierra Leone health personnel.

The efforts of Sinclair faculty have, since the inception of the STARFISH projects, received a superior level of cooperation from the Dayton area health community through donations of essential medical equipment, supplies and the participation of local medical services personnel.

Joseph Giardullo is to be singly commended for his contributions in conceptualizing, initiating, and promoting the development of this humanitarian effort, which continues to have a positive impact on the health and welfare of a diverse population located "half-a-world" away.