Hamlin Alumni who Helped Build the Hamlin Model of Care

Celebrating Hamlin Alumni and their contributions to the Hamlin Model of Care.

When Drs Reg and Catherine Hamlin first encountered an obstetric fistula patient, they knew women with this terrible condition required special attention. Their model of care for fistula patients evolved over six decades with the support and input of many professionals at the hospital. Over the years, Catherine and her team continued adding to and developing what became known as the gold standard in fistula treatment – the Hamlin Model of Care.

Treating more than a fistula

Today, the Hamlin Model of Care is the world’s leading approach to obstetric fistula treatment. The combination of a pioneering surgical technique perfected by Catherine and Reg, and a holistic approach to patient care based on love and respect for each patient has made the Hamlin Model of Care the exemplar for fistula treatment. As Catherine said, “We don’t just treat the hole in the bladder, we treat the whole patient with love and tender care… we give her a brand-new dress and bus money to travel home.” Care at Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia involves Rehabilitation, including physiotherapy and counselling, as well as Reintegration which includes education and income generation training. Patients can heal and reclaim their lives with confidence and hope.

The Hamlin Model of Care stems from an understanding of the myriad issues affecting fistula patients. Most fistula patients are from poor, rural communities with limited or no access to medical care, education and sustainable employment. Malnourishment, illiteracy, and other detrimental health outcomes are common in patients. In developing the Hamlin Model of Care, Catherine and the Hamlin Team sought to address these intersecting issues. The rationale is simple: treat the patient as a whole so that she can rebuild her life and thrive after fistula.

Creating a culture of care

The development of the Hamlin Model of Care was not built in a vacuum: numerous medical professionals and humanitarians have spent time at Hamlin’s Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital over the years, and contributed to the development of a culture of best practice care. Hamlin Alumni hail from all over the world and brought a variety of professional skills and expertise to inform patient care at Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia.

Hamlin Alumna Ruth Kennedy is well known throughout Hamlin for the years she spent helping develop Hamlin’s fistula treatment systems and processes, and the midwifery program. Hamlin Alumna Prilli Stevens provided expertise in establishing clinical stomatherapy treatment and followup at Hamlin.

At the heart of all of the work at Hamlin is a deep respect for every single patient. Too often, a fistula patient is ostracised from her community as a result of her injury; when she  arrives at a Hamlin hospital, she is embraced with open arms – an important step in recovering from a traumatic injury. “They are all precious to me. For every patient that comes to us we try to give them all the love, care and expertise that we have to help them to get better and back to a normal life,” said Catherine.


Over the next few months, the Hamlin site will be featuring blogs and accounts from influential figures in Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s history, and celebrating the role of the wonderful Hamlin Alumni in developing the Hamlin Model of Care. Click here to read stories from and about our Hamlin Alumni.

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