Elvis is a toddler we brought back with us from Nyamboi with severe pneumonia. He became so unwell late last night that at one point there were 6 doctors and 4 nurses supporting Dr. Jo and Joan who were looking after him. We finally left him on oxygen with mom in our surgical ward at midnight and prayed he would survive the night. This morning his fever was down and he was no longer requiring his oxygen. Tonight he is running around the courtyard ready to return home tomorrow. Life.
All team members reported to breakfast at 0600 feeling strong and healthy. The surgical team set to work early and had a full day of hernia repairs. Just as they closed up and left for dinner at 7:30pm one of the patients booked for surgery tomorrow developed a strangulated hernia. Back to the OR. Life.
Martin and Marion began the laser eye program today. Six patients received vision-saving laser surgery and Dr. Toylin has a full list for tomorrow. Martin said he had so much fun playing “laser tag” all day while Gene Paisley, Brenda’s dad, watched on.
The medical, dental and eye teams hit the road for Asantekwa. The crowds were massive and we were anxious to get to work; however protocol prevailed. The drums were beating and the women were dancing with joy over our arrival and we were expected to join in (quite a sight). After the dance, the chief presented us with a ram, yams, oranges, apples and bananas and could not stop expressing his gratitude. I had the pleasure of presenting some of our rookie team members who represented the different sectors of our clinic to the chief today including Dr. Tom (physician), Valerie (Nursing), Eni (Pharmacy), Dr. Kristel (Eye team), Dr. Ambareen (Surgery) and Elena (volunteers) — all who bravely stepped forward in front of the chief, Queen Mother and elders of the village. We, too, presented gifts and a comical moment ensued when Dr. Tom, presenting to the Queen Mother, offered the gift to the wrong woman! The villagers thought that was hilarious.
Our physician team was all together today in one room which was lots of fun. Once again, before set-up was complete, a critical incident occurred when an elderly woman collapsed unresponsive on the floor. She was treated and was able to go home later in the day. Life.
We had a special moment together when Dr. Bill led us in a moment of silence at 11:00 and all of our patients stood with us.
The eye team functioned amazingly well without their chiefs Dr. Martin and Marion, and the patients they could not get to will make the 2-hour trek to Yaara to be seen tomorrow.
Today was the first day our dental team didn’t get rained on. They finally had to retreat to an indoor classroom (94 degrees F) as the temperature outside was just too unbearable. All in all, our team saw just shy of 500 patients and at least that many were seen and treated by our wonderful triage team of Beth, Leslie and Val. What a tough job they have screening these massive crowds. Pharmacy finished in record time at 4:30 and we hit the road for home well before dark.
I do wish I could end this blog with a happy ending, but I cannot. Lydia died in the clinic today. Lydia was 22 years old and fell ill a week ago. She went to two different hospitals in the North and was sent home without treatment. I’m not sure she was even seen by a doctor. Her family, hearing we were nearby, carried her to our clinic. Despite aggressive resuscitation with our state of the art drugs and equipment, we could not save her. She arrived too late. Our local nurses, who had never witnessed CPR, defibrillation and resuscitation asked me why it is that we all cried when someone we didn’t even know died. A question worth pondering.
Lydia’s death is unacceptable. The deaths that would have occurred, like Elvis and countless others, had we not been here these 3 days are unacceptable too. While it is difficult for us to process the reality of this place, it is a reality that we all must face. This region needs a well-run hospital if these unnecessary deaths are to be prevented. After 8 years of our health team’s involvement here, GRID and NEA are moving forward to build and staff a model hospital right here in Carpenter that will be supported by people like us. Until this vision becomes a reality, people like Lydia will continue to die unnecessarily. Please check our the hospital plans on the GRID website and help us help NEA get this hospital built. Please.
After a delicious dinner (including mushroom soup from the NEA mushroom farm and fresh Tilapia from the fish pond) and wonderful speeches from David and the team leaders, and … wait for it … a priceless Girl Guide song called “Lavatory Man” sung by the one and only Leslie, we retired to our residence to visit with one another. With Michael strumming the tunes on the guitar, Dr. Sue cracking out a big puzzle for us to work on, and Dr. Anthony making instant coffee, we are all refreshed and ready for whatever tomorrow brings.
At 3:00pm every day, Kim drops us off an inspirational quote prepared by former team member Dr Sarah from Stouffville. It is a fitting ending to today’s very long blog:
It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power and may not be in your time that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result. — M. Gandhi
PS: we are loving your messages to the team and they are all being relayed. I’ve officially designated Dr. Carlye to read them out to the team as I turn into a blubbering mess when I try to read them. Surprise, surprise.
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