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Sākumlapa NewsThe medical professionals from Jelgava City Hospital have embarked on an exchange of experiences to Carmel, IN, USA
The medical professionals from Jelgava City Hospital have embarked on an exchange of experiences to Carmel, IN, USA

Continuing to strengthen the collaboration between Jelgava and our sister city Carmel in the USA, on May 4, for the first time, two doctors from Jelgava City Hospital went on an exchange of experiences to the state of Indiana. Over the next two weeks, they will visit state hospitals to gain medical experience and familiarize themselves with the working environment of medical institutions. In March, Jelgava City Hospital received an invitation from Indiana University Health in the USA, offering the opportunity for two of the institution’s medical professionals to participate in an exchange program.

Kārlis Smilga, a member of the board of Jelgava City Hospital, explains: Indiana University Health is the largest healthcare system in the state of Indiana, comprising 16 hospitals with 2700 beds, including Indianapolis Clinical University Hospital. The system employs a total of 36 thousand staff. “US universities and hospitals work closely together, providing both pediatric and adult healthcare, as well as education and scientific work. Responding to the invitation from this high-level clinical university hospital, our doctors will have the opportunity to gain experience in a hospital system located throughout the state of Indiana. Even before the trip to the USA, our partners in collaboration clarified our desires and areas of interest, and exchange programs have been prepared accordingly. Primarily, hospital physicians will gain medical experience and enhance their knowledge in their specialty. Specifically, as interns, doctors will participate in departmental work, surgeries, become acquainted with hospital infrastructure, and state-of-the-art equipment. I also encourage our employees to pay attention to other significant aspects – organization of work, patient safety, and digitalization solutions in medical institutions,” says K. Smilga. Jelgava medical professionals are also scheduled to meet with Carmel’s mayor, deputies, and Indiana University Health management.


It should be noted that upon receiving the invitation to participate in the exchange program, Jelgava City Hospital announced a call for interested applicants. “In total, we received 18 applications from both doctors and residents and nurses. This time, doctors were selected from various specialties – surgeon Kaspars Vaivods and neonatologist Ilze Punka,” explains K. Smilga, clarifying: a significant criterion in selecting participants for the exchange program was proficiency in English, the time worked in the hospital, as well as future work plans, with the expectation that the knowledge and experience gained will be applied in Jelgava City Hospital. The nominated candidates were also approved by US collaboration partners.


Neonatologist, or newborn doctor, I. Punka has been working at Jelgava City Hospital since 2011 – initially she was an on-call pediatrician, and currently, alongside being on-call, her main work is in the maternity department. “I am delighted with this opportunity and ready for new experiences. So far, I have attended conferences in the Baltic States, visited a hospital in Uzbekistan, but experiencing an exchange of this scale for the first time. Since the population density in the state of Indiana is significantly higher than here, it will be valuable to experience the organization of large departments, get to know the work methods of various specialized professionals, and also see the technologies being used,” says I. Punka. Meanwhile, surgeon K. Vaivods, who has been working at the city hospital for 10 years, adds: “So far, my understanding of US medicine has been purely theoretical, so a practical introduction to the medical system in one of the most developed countries in the world is a valuable opportunity to gain inspiration for improvements in Jelgava.”


After the visit of Jelgava city doctors to the state of Indiana, Jelgava City Hospital will prepare an invitation for the Carmel medical professionals to visit. “Further education in the medical field is the basis of the profession, so collaboration with such high-level hospitals is a truly unique opportunity with high added value. We will work to ensure that this initiative results in long-term collaboration,” concludes K. Smilga.


It should be noted that the exchange program is one of the initiatives of the cooperation program between Jelgava and Carmel, developed by the Honorary Consul of Latvia in Indiana and the president of the Jelgava Carmel Sister Cities Committee, Andris Bērziņš.


The decision to conclude a twinning agreement between Jelgava and Carmel, USA, was made in May 2022, and the agreement was signed in December of the same year. The cooperation between Jelgava and Carmel has already yielded results. For example, Jelgava City Hospital received a valuable donation from Indiana University Health – medical personnel clothing. 14,335 units of medical clothing worth 286,000 euros were delivered to Jelgava. The received donation was distributed to both hospital and other healthcare institution employees in the city.


Similarly, in August last year, two Jelgava municipal police officers went on an exchange of experiences to the state of Indiana. Working together with Carmel police officers, they participated in patrols and gained an understanding of police work in the USA. In turn, in September 2023, Carmel police officers visited Jelgava on a return visit.


It should be noted that Carmel is a city in Indiana with more than 100,000 residents. It became Jelgava’s thirteenth sister city and the first sister city in the USA.