Worldwide Transitions Aims to Alleviate Our Nursing Shortage

Jan 10, 2024 at 06:21 pm by kbarrettalley

By Steve Spencer


When Judy Kendall was a little girl, she loved thumbing through her parents’ National Geographics, imagining the adventure of traveling the globe, and after her children were grown, she decided to live that dream, and traveled to Africa for a three-week safari. While there, she visited Zambia where she was stunned at the level of poverty, unlike anything she had ever seen, and this inspired her to start Anchor of Hope, a charity designed to help Zambia’s children. Since 2006, Kendall has raised millions of dollars and Anchor of Hope has provided aid to approximately 50,000 children.

It was the Anchor of Hope experience that eventually led Kendall to finding a solution for our nursing shortage. It started in 2013 when Kendall, who was a Project Director with the Indiana University School of Medicine/Indiana University Health, sat in on a board meeting in which executives were discussing ways to improve care and/or reduce costs. As the executives went down the list, line eight, an unreimbursed care provided by the hospital system, was the result of one single person, a woman named Mary.

“Mary had been in the hospital for five years,” Kendall said. “She had traveled to the U.S. from Zambia to see her daughter, and had overstayed her VISA. At that point, she was considered undocumented. When she got sick, she couldn’t go to a doctor’s office because she wouldn’t have any form of payment, so she waited until it got bad and then she went to the hospital. They removed a tumor on her brain that left her in a condition like she had had a stroke. At that point, she would need a caretaker after she left the hospital, but her family had disappeared. Her daughter, who was here legally, was probably afraid she would get in trouble with immigration services.

“It was a tremendous cost to the hospital, and since I had experience in Africa, they asked me to help. I was able to find Mary’s siblings in a remote village. I then determined what was needed in order for them to take care of Mary. We put a well in so they would have running water, and we added on to the house. The hospital paid me to get her home. I did it to help the health care system, but of course, it was a benefit for Mary too.”

When Kendall learned that patients like Mary accounted for $20 billion of expenses in the healthcare system, a business idea bloomed, and she started Worldwide Transitions (WWT) which helps patients like Mary return home, relieving a financial burden from U.S. hospitals.

In the meantime, she continued her philanthropic work in Zambia with Anchor of Hope, and in the process, she learned that there were over 60,000 unemployed nurses in the country. With the imminent nursing shortage in the U.S., Kendall realized that she was looking at a true win-win situation, and she added a staffing solution service line to WWT designed to both ease of shortage in the U.S., and provide an opportunity for Zambian nurses.

At this time, WWT has placed around 300 Zambian nurses in the U.S. with another 200 recruits who are yet to be placed. Kendall has been careful about advertising her service in Zambia so as not to get more nurses than she can place. “We put it on a Facebook page there, and pulled it back after one day because we got such a big response,” she said.

When nurses find the Worldwide Transitions website, they input their credentials, along with their resume. After Kendall and her staff review the information, they set up interviews with qualified candidates. “Once we feel that someone is a good candidate, we start working with them - first, to help them prepare for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), which is necessary in order to practice in the U.S.,” Kendall said. “This way, they’re credentialed before they come here. Either before or after they’ve passed the exam, our goal is to marry them up with a client. We also lead them through the Certified Nursing Assistant class so they can have this completed before they arrive.

“The VISA process takes about a year, and during that time, we’ve developed a curriculum which we deliver every two weeks. We try to cover everything they could need for their new life. For example, we have a whole class on interviews. And we teach them about every day things like learning to drive on the left side of the road; where to shop; how to turn on your electricity; getting a driver’s license etc. And they get a medical exam with all the required immunizations.

“We pick them up when they arrive here, and we support them for their first two months. We make sure they have a place to stay, along with all the things they need. They have a list of references they can call for various needs, and we connect them with local people from their homeland. There are Zambians here in Birmingham who I know well. And that’s a big key to this – unlike the typical recruiters, I know Zambia inside and out, having been there 30 times with my non-profit. I know members of Parliament, people with private companies. I know rural areas, urban areas. I know school system administrators, University administrators. I know our US ambassador there. I’m practically a Zambian. I have a heart for these people.”

Judy Kendall is working exclusively with healthcare systems in Indiana and Alabama, where she has resides. However, not every provider will fit. “We’re working with health care systems that will embrace the cultural blend,” she said. “As an example, the Chief Nursing Officer for one of our hospital system clients is planning to go with us on a trip to Zambia to meet some of the nurses before they come. She wants it to be a great experience for everyone. They’re embracing the culture. That’s what will make it successful.”

Sections: Business

May 2024

May 21, 2024 at 01:33 pm by kbarrettalley

Your May 2024 Issue of Birmingham Medical News is Here!