This week has seen the return of Drs Dina & Zotei from their leave in India with their two younger children. Their eldest has stayed in India to persue her education. We also said goodbye to Dr Dunstone Aleziru who had received his letter from the Ministry of Health in Honiara for his new posting in another province. We are therefore adjusting to new roles as Graham takes over as Medical Superintendent, freeing Dr Dina to concentrate on surgery. The United Church would like him to visit their other health care institutions to do surgery if money can be found for his travel. He continues to look after the maternity ward, Dr Zotei the paediatric ward & Jenny the general ward, with Graham concentrating on administration and some teaching at Helena Goldie College of Nursing. The hospital financial report was prepared ready for the Hospital & College Board meeting last week and this underlined how precarious the situation now is, with the monthly staff wages now greater than the grant from the government – our main regular income.We continue to explore ways to alleviate the financial situation.
It was good to end the week with a picnic to a nearby small island with our hospital fellowship group. We enjoyed freshly caught fish cooked on the beach, eaten on plates weaved on the beach from coconut palm leaves. We also had rice, sweet potatoe and tropical fruit.
A typical week with lots of unexpected happenings; so last Sunday Graham found himself in Gizo, having jumped into a canoe with 10 minutes notice. He has been asked to go as an expert witness in an alleged rape case in the absence of Dr Dina who did the original report. In the event he was not allowed by the court to testify, so he flew back on Wednesday, having used the opportunity to make contacts at the new hospital in Gizo. He spent Friday teaching all day at the College of Nursing.
Jenny found herself on the academic board of the college which met for the first time to approve the passing of the first intake of diploma students. They are due to graduate on 16th April – the anniversary of the opening ceremony. It was interesting to hear how the students (mainly nurse aides) had struggled initially with the academic load, but improved with each year. We discussed the need for “bridging courses” in English and mathematics for future students.
Drs Dina & Zotei return this weekend with two of their children, having left their eldest for schooling in India. Dr Aleziru is due to leave when they return but it has been a pleasure to work with him. We wish him well as he persues his career.
Although the hospital is not full at this time, some very sick patients were admitted this week, including a young mother with liver failure due to chronic active hepatitis, a middle aged lady with inoperable cancer of the cervix and a young man with probable advanced leukaemia for whom there will only be limited options for treatment. The decision about whether to transfer patients to Honiara is always a difficult one, weighing the benefit to the patient against the cost which is not just financial. People prefer to go to their home island to die, often putting their faith in local kustom remedies. This dilemma was highlighted this week when the mother of one of our nurse aides was being transferred to Honiara with a bowel problem but died in the aeroplane not far from Gizo.
A very sick baby transferred here for initial resuscitation and then on to Honiara arrived safely but has been confirmed to have hydrocephalus (fluid not draining properly from around the brain) and liver problems, neither of which can be adequately treated in the Solomon Islands.
We were not affected here in the West province by the tsunami in the far east of the country, but thank you to all who expressed your concern to us. We greatly appreciate your friendship and support.
At the end of another exhausting week Jenny has enjoyed her “swim” astride a bucket of water with the rain still dripping from the roof. It is dark, the rumble of thunder is all around as lightning flashes in the sky and excited fire-flies chase around. Rough seas have made travel difficult and the locals are complaining about the cold weather.
The nursing college opened this week with 29 students arriving from all parts of the Solomon Islands and two from Vanuatu. Unfortunately the college accommodation remains a problem, so what we will do when the 3rd year students return is a puzzle.
Our new Chaplain and his Marama (wife) are giving an excellent lead to our morning devotions and we enjoyed sharing a meal with them and our old neighbours last weekend. Graham has been busy in the office dealing with a large number of e-mails from the last few months and trying to coordinate the annual report required for the management meeting next week.
Sadly after writing this entry a young man was brought by canoe having been struck by lightning whilst out fishing in the Vonavona lagoon with his cousin. Both were knocked out, but the cousin recovered enough to paddle for help. Sadly it was too late, highlighting the problems and difficulties of life here.