Heidi Nakamura is a neonatal intensive care unit nurse with over 33 years’ experience. Previously serving as a long-standing clinician, leader, and role model at the University of Washington Medical Center Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Nakamura has a deep passion for serving those in need and has cared for thousands of babies. Throughout her career, she has volunteered for months at a time in resource-constrained countries. She spent time helping to establish neonatal units in India, Thailand, and Uganda, where she now dedicates her efforts full-time with Adara Development. In her role as Adara’s Global Health Director, Nakamura works with a Ugandan and American team to develop engaging training materials and clinical reference documents that will inspire, upskill, and give confidence to the next generation of neonatal nurses. Nakamura is passionately dedicated to training the next generation of neonatal nurses in Uganda. She believes that when nurses are given the proper training, equipment, supplies, and support to do their jobs, they can transform the lives of our smallest and most vulnerable infants, and many of the training materials Nakamura has developed are now being adopted nationally by the Ugandan Ministry of Health. Kiwoko Hospital, where she has volunteered her time for over 15 years, is now considered a neonatal Centre of Excellence. Together with Kiwoko Hospital and her Adara team, Nakamura has helped develop comprehensive programs to support vulnerable infants and their families. Hand in hand with her teams she has demonstrated that simple, high-impact interventions – such as KMC and infection control – can save countless lives. She works with Kiwoko Hospital and the Ministry of Health to ensure that more nurses have access to the critical building blocks of success – sufficient staff, infrastructure, equipment, and supplies – to do their jobs.
As the COVID-19 Pandemic hit, Nakamura anticipated the needs of teams in Uganda and Nepal, making the procurement of PPE for staff the utmost priority. Before the virus began to spread in those countries, she spent hours working to prepare them as best she could through education and information about COVID-19, guidelines for the proper use of PPE, and protocols for infection prevention/control measures. Nakamura works tirelessly, putting extra hours into her days, to research and prepare the teams in remote areas. She has paid close attention to the news in Nepal and Uganda and listened to the responses from the community to formulate the next steps. She understands the importance of providing clear and accurate medical information and has worked to develop simple tools that can reach a wide audience in a low resource setting including flyers, SMS text campaigns, and radio programs to ensure the delivery of high-quality care for women and girls in this time of crisis.