Shalom College in Bundaberg (Queensland) have sent students to do projects at Helena Goldie Hospital on several occasions over the last few years. This year the agreed project was the dismantling of the existing kitchen for patients and visitors and the building of a new kitchen by the beach. They arrived on Saturday and came to the hospital for a look and discussion on Sunday afternoon. The timbers for the new kitchen had already been prepared, so by Monday afternoon the old kitchen was gone and the site for the new kitchen was ready.
Jenny toured the remote south eastern part of Choiseul this week. A patient with an incomplete miscarriage needed treatment to stop her bleeding, so Jenny had to do a D&C (empty her womb surgically) in a remote clinic with no equipment for giving intra-venous fluid. Apparently the lady made a good recovery.
On Thursday evening a grand farewell feast was arranged at Sasamunga Hospital, with the usual speeches. Jenny then left for the villages of Narione, Vosa and Moli before returning to Taro for the flights back to Munda on Monday.
Yesterday (Friday) Dr Boseto (a Solomon Island surgeon currently working in Australia) arrived at the hospital on the early flight from Honiara with two theatre nurses and a Professor of Surgery from Sydney. They looked at three surgical patients on the ward before heading for the out-patient department, where they spent the morning screening patients for surgery at Gizo Hospital next week. They will visit Noro tomorrow and go across to Gizo by canoe on Sunday afternoon, with several patients either joining them or following by canoe on Monday.
Jenny has sent messages back to Munda as well as patients. She has apparently seen about 240 patients on the remote “weather coast” of the north side of Choiseul. These people have limited access to health care of any kind and have certainly not had the opportunity to see a doctor for over a year. On her return to Taro, there was a child with a severe eye injury that needed attention before transferring to Honiara. She sent two patients to Munda on the aeroplane – one from Choiseul with appendicitis at 23 weeks of her 2nd pregnancy and the other from the Shortland Islands who has had abdominal pain for some time. They arrived here at Helena Goldie Hospital and have been next to each other on the female side of general ward this week. The lady from Shortland went to theatre yesterday (Friday) and had excision of a large pedunculated fibroid under spinal anaesthesia with intra-venous Ketamine and Pethidine supplement later in the procedure. She is recovering well.
Otherwise the hospital has been relatively quiet this week, but in the wider community there is widespread political activity in preparation for the local elections on Thursday 26th. There are 10 candidates, including the hospital secretary, Soraya Pina. We await the count of votes on Friday.
Jenny left for Taro on the 7-15am flight in the 9-seater Island Hopper . She spent two days in Taro before leaving for the “ultra-remote” north coast of the island. There were two patients with orthopaedic problems that were discussed over the mobile telephone before being sent to Honiara. One of these was an open supra-condylar fracture (of elbow) in a child that had fallen several days previously.
On Tuesday she had reached Sirivanga, a Roman Catholic mission station where she was invited to join the evening Lotu. Beyond this village, mobile signal is intermittent at best, but she is expected back in Taro this weekend.
Meanwhile, Graham has been working with Dr Zotei as Dr Dina has been in Honiara for a workshop. Graham spent Monday evening at Davinia Taylor Hall, invigilating the University of the South Pacific basic mathematics examination for 10 Helena Goldie Hospital nurse aides. On Tuesday evening many of us were back in the same hall for a farewell feast for the nurses visiting from the Wesley Hospital in Brisbane. They worked mainly in the college on this visit, so the college staff and students were hosts on this occasion. They brought equipment, batteries, pens and many other useful items; some were edible! They will be back in April for graduation of the current 3rd year students.
Wednesday was a disturbed night on the general ward with an older lady admitted with an exacerbation of asthma. As she failed to respond to nebulised Salbutamol, she was treated with intra-venous Aminophylline, which helped to solve the problem. Yesterday morning (Friday) was interrupted with an emergency – a 29 year old man suffered a severe head injury from the propeller of his out-board motor and was dead on arrival at the hospital. His body was taken back to Noro before being taken to his home island – Malaita.
We have just enjoyed a locally prepared meal with our Australian friends Rev Helen and nurses Wendy, Rachel and Jodi from the Wesley Hospital in Brisbane, hosted by Amanda and Rod at the green house. Amanda & Rod came as self -funded volunteers last year but have now returned on a more formal basis. Amanda is funded by AusAID, with the aim of developing the college of nursing and Rod is working with the United Church Assembly whilst continuing with his masters course and examinations. They are already making an impact and the meal last night was a practice run; locals providing traditional meals for visitors as an income-generating project. There are plans to build a leaf house next to the green house, and serve food on traditional leaf plates. The visiting nurses have worked hard in the college this week and are looking forward to an island pic-nic tomorrow (Saturday). Jenny is off to Choiseul again on Sunday and will be doing a full island tour for the province, which is still without a doctor. She will then spend her third week in Sasamunga before returning to Munda. Dr Dina has had a very busy week in Gizo doing hysterectomies (up to five a day) for the province and later this month Dr Zotei will go to Seghe with Sally (theatre sister) to some minor surgery. So we are happy to see such cooperation between the hospitals, the United Church and the Ministry of Health, working together to provide health care in the provinces.
After a few days of “drought”, strong wind and heavy rain has filled the water tanks to overflowing and given us a rather autumnal feel. Fortunately the rain held off for a wedding yesterday afternoon and one of our terminal patients managed to get home with her family in their canoe to Rendova. The patients are all feeling cold and Graham also put on an extra long-sleeved layer of clothing yesterday evening.
The hospital has been host to a Trachoma workshop with a doctor (Dr Solomon!) visiting from the London School of Tropical Medicine) and an eye surgeon from Melbourne. Trachoma is very common here and is a major cause of avoidable blindness. They did their survey in local schools and went on to assess the competence of the eye nurses that had gathered from all around the country. Apparently they all passed with flying colours. This hospital was chosen to host the meeting as the runway at Gizo is currently closed for resurfacing.
We look forward to the biannual visit of the Australian nurses tomorrow (Monday). With a short rest from medical students, Robina house has had chance to recover its watersupply and have a good “spring” clean, or should that be “autumn” clean?