After the excitement of the first diploma graduation at the college and the visit from the Uniting World nursing team from the Wesley Hospital in Brisbane, we are hoping to enjoy a quieter weekend with the chance to catch up on the more mundane things like washing & cleaning the house. Having recently worked out how to communicate with our family & friends by Skype, we are definitely missing the previously good internet access here at the hospital, so communication remains a problem. The out-patient department seems to get busier and the usual workshops are depleting our staff in the hospital. We are seeing quite a bit of gastro-enteritis and respiratory infections, but as yet, no more cases of Dengue Fever. We do now have the diagnostic test kits for this but none have proved positive so far.
Our male ward is full of men with foot infections who are being treated with antibiotics and daily dressings: some of them have diabetes. The nurse aides remain enthusiastic about their distance learning courses in mathematics and English. They participated fully in our first class with them on Tuesday, the topic being “grammatical sentences”! The hospital board members received some teaching on governance which was felt to be very valuable by all present.
After weeks of preparation for this event, the appointed day finally arrived: the occasion was a great success and enjoyed by all. The guest of honour was the current Minister of Health Charles Sigota. He was previously the Director of Nursing at Gizo Hospital and was closely involved with the work to establish the college from the original vision in 2005. The graduation ceremony took place in the large church building at Kokeqolo. The graduands looked splendid in their blue gowns with yellow hoods and the church was beautifully decorated for the occasion. There were several speeches from the invited guests followed by the presentation of certificates & prizes, the singing of the farewell song and the reciting of the nurses’ pledge holding individual candles.
This was followed by a feast for several hundred people back at the college. Invited guests and graduands ate inside the hall and the others were outside in the tomoko (war canoe) that had been built on both sides of the hall for the occasion. Both groups of guests were treated to kustom entertainment during the feast. After the feast, the graduands led by Derek Ivulu challenged the current 3rd year students to make a better tomoko for their graduation in 2014. This is a tradition at such occasions and is followed by the destruction of the front of the war canoe and the theft of food by the students receiving the challenge.
Unfortunately Jenny missed the ceremony as she was busy with patients, but she did manage to attend the feast. Yesterday evening (Friday) there was a farewell feast for the graduands (now probation registered nurses) and an opportunity for them to speak to the combined hospital & college community. They will return to their placements over the next few days.
N.B. Due to an excessive number of nuisance comments, these are no longer being opened.
We are missing internet access at the hospital since the contract with the provider finished at the end of March. The satellite dish provided to 14 health institutions had been such an improvement on the dial-up and we had enjoyed some Skype conversations with the family. However we discovered only last week that Helena Goldie Hospital had been the only functional satellite dish due to capacity problems with the service/maintenance provider, so the Ministry of Health is now looking for a better solution. We hope that this is not too long coming as Graham is having to find other opportunities to use the internet in Lambete. Meanwhile Munda remains busy with work continuing on the airstrip upgrade. The aeroplanes are now landing at the hospital end of the runway and the Solomon Airline office is now in the ground floor of the 2 story church house that we lived in for 3 weeks when we first came here in 2009.
Jenny was off touring in the Roviana lagoon for 3 days – quite a contrast to Munda with all the development here. Two medical students from the U.K. were fortunate to share the experience and were very helpful, adjusting well to the lack of toilet facilities and sleeping on the floor. On Friday a Solomon Island surgeon (now living & working in Australia) came to see patients at H.G.H. and today will do a below-knee amputation for a malignant growth on the foot of a local man, before leaving for Gizo this afternoon (Sunday 14th March).
After a busy Easter weekend followed by college week we are all feeling rather exhausted. Our time was split between Saturday evening Lotu and film, followed by Easter Lotu and breakfast here at the hospital, church services and bible study at the church. College week was an evening program on Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday illustrating the spiritual, health and cultural aspects of college life. People were invited to contribute, so the medical students joined us to act out the story of Zacheus on the first evening. There was singing and sketches and some kustom dancing on the cultural night. As usual we didn’t manage to stay for the full program until midnight, but they are used to us slipping away and we could here the music from our bed!
The hospital fortunately has not been too busy. Dr Dina completed a successful few days doing gynaecological surgery in the new Gizo hospital. Dengue fever continues to cause problems in Honiara. We have had one case here. An AusAid team paid us a flying visit to check out how the provinces would cope with a large outbreak and they reminded us that human rubbish attracts the mosquitoes that carry the virus. It is very hard to keep on top of the rubbish at the hospital, but staff, students and relatives of patients joined us to clear up yesterday morning.