Katherine has been here for a week now and we praise God for her. As more children arrive to fill the ward, extra beds on the floor are becoming normal. She has taken over running the paediatric ward, with a constant round of children arriving in a fragile state, needing resuscitation with intra-venous fluids. At the same time we continue to receive an influx of patients (mainly adults) from Rendova Island with probable Typhus fever and we have also just confirmed our first case of Dengue Fever this year.
Maternity ward, not wishing to be left out, has been busy with more deliveries this month than in any month last year. Jenny delivered her first breech last night (Friday) – a 2nd twin in a mother that had received no ante-natal care. She arrived just in time to deliver the first twin normally. We also sent another ante-natal mother to Honiara after treating her for eclampsia (convulsions in pregnancy).
Graham had an unexpected trip to Honiara for 2 days, escorting a young man with a ruptured spleen caused by a falling coconut – a real hazard here. He also took a 12 year old girl with appendicitis. We value your prayers to sustain us through this very busy time.
Our daughter Katherine arrived from the U.K. this week and spent her first day going round the wards and meeting people, some of whom she remembers from her brief visit in November 2009. She is a paediatric “registrar” in Glasgow and as she has been granted temporary medical registration here, she will be able to put her experience of treating children in and around Glasgow to good use. She has just spent 3 months at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, so she is also helping us to manage such conditions as Tick-born & Scrub Typhus which we have been seeing here recently.
On her first night here, a 2 year old girl was brought to the hospital having started with diarrhoea and vomiting the previous day. The nursing staff called us when they were unable to resuscitate her.
We also sent a 2 year old to Honiara on the aeroplane. It may be that he has Tuberculosis, but it was felt that he needed more diagnostic facilities as they have at the National Referral Hospital.
Yesterday (Friday) was the United Church Anniversary. This marks the date when the pioneer missionary Rev John Goldie arrived here with his wife Helena in 1902, supported by the Australian Methodist Church. It was a big occasion with the large church literally full and people standing outside! There were so many choirs from other congregations and local schools that lunch was not ready until after 3pm, so I had returned to the hospital by then.
The three medical student from the U.K.that are with us at present have worked hard painting General Ward all week. They are using off white and “Oxford Blue”. This work was started last year by a previous student Lucy and her brother Jack is now part of the team which aims to complete the job. It is looking very good now!
The outbreak of gastro-enteritis continues to bring children to the hospital, keeping children’s ward full with extra mattresses on the floor. Thankfully our new medical student arrived with 50 cannulas for giving babies intra-venous fluids. Also a new pharmacy officer arrived this week and she has already transformed the department, so we are very excited about that. Another bonus has been the arrival of a physiotherapist – a lovely caring and gentle lady who is doing a great work.
On the other side, we have had more staff problems with an argument leading to a drunken attack on the female nursing student “hostel”. The Chaplain has been involved with prayerful and Kustom reconciliation, but the person involved is suspended until the senior management can meet to decide what to do. Unfortunately our Hospital Secretary is in Honiara arranging the repatriation of one of our Vanuatu nursing students who has been unwell for several weeks. Never a dull moment!
The ongoing outbreak of gastro-enteritis continues to keep us busy, especially on children’s ward where babies and infants arrive sometimes in a collapsed and dehydrated state. A shortage of basic items like the smallest canulas for giving intra-venous fluids increases the stress level as we struggle to revive these children. With rising levels of Tuberculosis, this is also a diagnosis to be considered and is notoriously difficult in children.
On a brighter note, we are enjoying our two new medical students who have thrown themselves into life here. We managed to squeeze time to lead the evening devotion on Wednesday in the main church – Tom & Jack were perfect actors for the story of the prodigal son, with Graham as the old father – it was much appreciated.
The events of this week illustrate the difficult mix of the two worlds here in Munda. Last August the community celebrated the handing over of “Munda International Airport” to the Solomon Island Government. There are currently only 3 all-weather runways in the country – Honiara, the short runway at Gizo and the new runway here in Munda. Unfortunately the work on the airport has not been completed in that there is no fence around the runway, no landing lights and the same old terminal. Several culverts were created for drainage of the runway and the mouth of one of these is just across the road from Kokeqolo Primary School. During heavy rain on Monday, water backed up at this point and a 10 year old boy from Kindu decided to jump into the pool and swim over 50Metres through the culvert to the sea. He did not appear to his friends at the other end and his body was pulled out of the culvert after 2 hours. He was brought the short distance to the hospital but it proved impossible to resuscitate him. Needless to say, the community was shocked by this event.
The funeral service was held in Kindu church on Wednesday and there was a short service at the culvert yesterday (Friday) morning with representations from the hospital, college of nursing and local police. We hope that the fencing will now be a priority as many people still use the runway to walk or cycle from the hospital end down to Lambete.