Removing Language Barriers to Care

Adam Silverman, MD

Adam Silverman, MD, is the Director of the Center for Global Health at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, Connecticut. In addition, he is the Co-Founder of Pediatric Critical Care in Resource Limited Settings (PCCiRLS), a global community of pediatric critical care providers who develop training material for practitioners in resource-limited areas. 

As part of this work, Dr. Silverman was awarded a CHEST Foundation grant in 2017 to fund the French translation of educational material for pediatric critical care courses in Haiti—the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. Dr. Silverman knew the English-language instructional books would be a barrier for his French-speaking colleagues, and leaving Haiti for medical education is difficult.

When he received the grant, Dr. Silverman and his associates began the rigorous process of translation and verification of the content for clarity and accuracy. A team of physicians transported hundreds of pounds of manuals on planes in huge duffel bags rather than risk shipping.

Over the course of a week, the team presented two Pediatric Basic courses for approximately 60 to 70 learners from five different hospitals. The groups included hospital leaders, faculty members, physicians, nurses, and residents. 

Silverman n the classroom

“The learners really appreciated having up-to-date, peer-reviewed, high-quality written material for them to refer to and take home from the course because that’s so rare,” says Dr. Silverman. “Even to this day, [to] go to different pediatric facilities around Haiti and see those manuals still dog-eared and coffee-stained, but well-used, is really a testament to how much impact putting on these courses and having French materials available for the learners really provided.” 


Beyond the initial grant funding, PCCiRLS developed training strategies and products for pediatric critical care practitioners in Haiti, Rwanda, and Ghana. 

“When the usage of the grant funding ended, it was really kindling for ongoing work that’s being done,” Dr. Silverman said. “This was the catalyst… [I]t’s all a part of this progression that I think was really helpful.” Ongoing education is now conducted both in-person and virtually.