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Alumni Profile overline
East Meets West
in Pediatric Care

June 1, known as the Day of the Child in China, will mark the ceremonial opening of a $40 million pediatric teaching hospital -- the first facility of its kind in that country. It is an enterprise close to Leslie Mancuso's heart, because her organization, Project HOPE, is collaborating with the Chinese government to make it possible.
   "I have a very deep commitment because I've worked there for so many years," says Mancuso, GNu'82, Gr'97, who was promoted
Illustration by Philip Anderson spacer
to chief operating officer of the international health-care foundation in January. The 250-bed Shanghai Children's Medical Center, designed to treat about 250,000 patients per year, will be "an international hospital with Chinese characteristics," Mancuso says. "It's their hospital. We are involved in educating [the hospital staff] and helping to provide medicine, supplies, and equipment. The Chinese donated the land, and they're building the hospital" with Project HOPE's supervision. "So it's a real partnership." To date her organization has collected about $24 million in donated medical equipment and supplies for the facility.
   Mancuso began volunteering with the Millwood, Va.-based Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere) while teaching at Penn in the mid-1980s, visiting countries like Costa Rica, China, and Indonesia. "I had not done international work prior to that. I started [volunteering] because I loved to teach, and I thought it would be a challenge to look at teaching in another country." Volunteer assignments turned into consulting work, and she joined the organization in 1989 as an associate director of nursing. Before becoming COO, she was a vice president for international medical operations, overseeing some 45 health education and medical assistance programs in 24 countries.
   Project HOPE was the first non-governmental organization involved in health education in China when it began working with universities there in 1983, offering programs in preventive dentistry, maternal health for rural women, and pediatric cardiovascular surgery education, to give just a few examples. During that time, Mancuso says, "We've obviously formed partnerships and friendships with these different physicians and nurses in these universities. When our founder was over there, he had a discussion with some of the key leaders in China and they began to look at what we could help with next. It was a mutual decision. It wasn't a Western government coming in and saying, 'This is what you need.' Our Chinese colleagues said they would love a setting where nurses and doctors could be taught within China."
   It's particularly important when providing assistance in other countries to be respectful of cultural differences, Mancuso notes, and to realize that "We have a lot to learn from them." For instance, the Shanghai Children's Medical Center will have both a regular and a traditional pharmacy. "Obviously, the Chinese have traditional ways by which they treat patients not using medicines that you might know, but using herbs and other methods. So we have a pharmacist beginning to work with their pharmacist to look at what's best for the hospital."

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Copyright 1998 The Pennsylvania Gazette Last modified 4/13/98