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International MBA students tour Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital

| Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, 12:12 a.m.
David Byers (right), system manager for the safety and occupational health department at Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg, speaks to Ukrainian students about workplace safety during a tour of the hospital on Monday, January 14, 2013. Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Kuzma Oleksandr (right), a Ukrainian student studying for his MBA in health care management, and fellow students take photos while touring Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg on Monday, January 14, 2013. Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review

Dr. Andrii Sergiienko can't wait to integrate new practices in Ukraine that he learned at Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg on Monday.

Sergiienko hopes to encourage continuous improvements and safety protocols at the Eye Microsurgery Center in Kiev, where he is an ophthalmologist performing 1,000 surgeries annually.

“It's very great that all workers ... can write about problems and decide solutions,” said Sergiienko, who is also a professor. “The system of safety (at Westmoreland Hospital) is very good.”

Sergiienko, who will graduate next month, and about a dozen other students working on their master of business administration degrees in health care management at International Management Institute-Kiev are finishing up a two-week hospital and health care facility tour in the Pittsburgh area.

The students visited Westmoreland Hospital's critical care unit and the food and nutrition area on Monday and learned about safety initiatives with the aid of an interpreter. Most members of the group are employed in Ukraine's private health-care industry.

The trip was made possible with the assistance of Carnegie Mellon University. The Ukrainian students have asked many questions and taken lots of pictures, said Christine Cato, associate director of executive education in CMU's business school.

“They've been very engaged and interested in the places that we've been,” Cato said.

Kathy Radocaj, nurse manager of the critical care unit, showed the group medical supplies and how patients are cordoned off from each other by curtains. David Byers spoke to the group about employee, patient and visitor safety in his position as system manager of the safety and occupational health department.

The Ukrainian students snapped pictures throughout the tour, some posing with a Westmoreland Hospital sign in the lobby, and asked questions as their interpreter relayed information.

Byers said he tried to speak slowly and use “natural sign language” to communicate through the interpreter.

The study tour helps Ukrainian students learn how health care differs throughout the world, said Vlad Bidnyi, director of development at International Management Institute-Kiev.

Ukrainian hospitals have endured a lack of funding in the last decade as a result of political and economic turmoil, Bidnyi said. The country is faced with a “serious problem of transforming the system of health care,” he said.

Medical centers in Ukraine vary between being state- and privately run. The visiting students hope to take new ideas back to their homeland, Bidnyi said.

“Some can be easily implemented in the short-term perspective,” Bidnyi said.

While Westmoreland Hospital provide tours on a regular basis, groups coming in are typically from a local business or school, said Robin Jennings, Excela Health spokeswoman.

“To actually host an international group, that's unusual,” she said.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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