Thursday, February 16, 2017

Creating footsteps

For the past 14 years, Dr. Andy has been a big part of the ministry at Kudjip Nazarene Hospital, but due to health reasons, he and Judy will be reassigned to another assignment and continue to serve elsewhere. 

Andy has been a blessing to this Hospital and station in so many ways, but over the past number of years his ministry has been to kids.  Andy has a huge heart for kids and loves to round on the pediatric ward each morning, often developing a special relationship with the patients and their families.  He especially has a heart for hurting kids and wants to do all he can to make them better.  Caring for kids like Anna on one of the ways he ministers and shares Christ's love with the kids.  Outside of rounding on the pediatric ward, Andy has worked and found another way to minister to kids - by helping them walk. 
Some kids at birth, are born with what is called clubfoot or talipes deformity (this occurs around 1 in 1000 births in the US, but is higher in other parts of the world).  This means that instead of the sole of their foot being on the ground, the side of their foot is on the ground.  When the kid is a baby, this doesn't matter much as they aren't walking, but when they get to be one and start walking, they aren't able to walk like you and I walk, instead the outside of their foot hits the ground as they walk.  God make our bodies like they are for a reason and although the kids learn to walk and run this way, it is a struggle for them, especially in the bush of the Highlands of PNG where the roads are dirt paths, full of holes, stones and other hazards, which are hard enough to navigate with straight feet. 

Through the years, Andy has developed a passion for help these kids walk.   He has read books, taken courses and even worked with the doctor who founded the method that he uses - the Ponsetti method of talipes care.   This method uses serial castings, with each cast positioning the foot more and more in the right position, and after about 2 months, their foot is straight.  Following the casts, there is bracing that occurs for another number of months, but in the end kids who weren't walking, or weren't walking well are now able to.  Through the years Andy has cared for a number of kids (newborns to 2 yo to 5 yo and even adults) with talipes deformity and has helped them walk "normally."  This has been a great ministry and very rewarding for the patient and for Andy. 

We are going to miss Andy and Judy when they head out in a few months.   They have served well and the gap they leave won't be easily filled, not only in their talipes ministry, but the storeroom their relationships with their PNGian friends and more.  They have left their mark in PNG in so many ways, but one I will always think of is by helping to create footsteps by those who otherwise would struggle to do so.  Thank you for serving with us Andy and for being the Hands of Jesus healing these feet.  

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Dental Clinic Upgrade

Samaritan's Purse/World Medical Mission has been a huge supporter of Kudjip Nazarene Hospital.  They are our main source of volunteer doctors coming and serving with us, and have supplied us with 2 family practice doctors, 1 surgeon and 1 dentist through their Post Residency Program, with another surgeon and FP doctor coming in 2017 to join us as well.  Outside of doctors, they have been big supporters of providing equipment to us to help us run more effectively.  Not only have they helped out with surgery equipment, enabling us to have better anesthesia machines, lights, instruments and more, but they have also been a huge help to our dental clinic.
2 years ago our dental clinic opened with a mismatch of equipment that worked, but not without much effort on Sheena, our dentist's part.  Instruments and equipment broke regularly, supplies were hard to find and despite all of that Sheena has been able to care for 100s of patients in these past 2 years. 

Now thanks to the generosity of SP/WMM we have a new state of the art dental clinic.  Sheena Li is a dentist, who has been serving with us for almost 2 years now.  She has been able to transform dental care in the Highlands of PNG just by being here and caring for the patients, in a Christ honoring way.  Patients from all over the Highlands and beyond come to Kudjip to get dental care, the word has gotten out and they are coming. 

The work is too much for Sheena to do on her own, and so over the past 2 years she has been training her assistants, Emelda and Clara, to do assisting, cleanings, making the false teeth, taking Xrays and more.  It has been great to watch these women grow in their dental skills and work together to serve the patients who come. 

Sheena is going to be heading out on Home Assignment come June and we are looking for someone to help fill her void.  We are seeking PNG dentists for Sheena to start training, but we also need some experienced dentists to come and help oversee the dental clinic while she is gone.  If anyone is interested, please email our volunteer coordinator - Dr. Katherine Radcliffe at  

Monday, February 6, 2017

Prayers Answered

On Christmas Day, one of our Nazarene Pastors was admitted for continued symptoms that had been going on for about 3 weeks.  His headaches, fevers, and muscle pains hadn't been cured with the prior treatments.  Over about 3 days, he went from answering my questions to almost unresponsive.  As the family, church leaders asked what was happening, how he was doing, what could be done, I shared that I didn't know and that despite treating him for everything I could based on the most likely diagnosis given his lab and Xray results, I was concerned that he could die, even die that day.

The family trusted God's plan for his life, and we prayed that would save him, would heal him, would use the medicine to help his liver and kidneys start worked again.  In 24 hours time, he went from comatose and almost dead to sitting up and talking to me.  I just saw him back for his review, now almost 4 weeks later and he had no complaints, the fevers were gone, he was walking without difficulty, was talking without any confusion - he was healed.  What a gift, what an answer to prayer. 

As thankful as we were for Pastor John's recovery, I know that the same day he recovered, I signed a death certificate of someone who didn't make it.  We pray for healing in this life, but our desire is for the patients to have a relationship with Christ that allows this life not to be the end.  Pray that we would continue to minister to patients both for their physical health as well as for their spiritual.  

Monday, January 30, 2017

Continuing to smile

She came to Kudjip to be a nurse and be able to minister God's healing to the sick and hurting.  She finished her first year of nursing school at our College of Nursing, but not without a struggle.  For about 2 years she has started to notice weakness of her muscles of her arms and legs, hoping it would pass, she continued to study in her first year of nursing school.  When she found it difficult to sit up by herself, to raise her legs off the bed by herself, raise her arms up by herself - she came to see us for help.

We were hoping she might have TB which had caused weakness making it difficult for her to get around, but blood tests showed something else was going on.  We don't know exactly what is it, but it seems like she has a form of muscular dystrophy which is making her muscles weak.  This wouldn't be so bad if there was a medicine we could give her to make her strength come back, but we don't have a medicine to do that, no one does.

Sharing news like this with a patient is never easy, but Malisa's smile has never left despite the news that she won't be able to be a nurse.  I am not sure what life will look like for her now, her mom is coming to take her back to the Sepik (her home), but after that, I am not sure.  She will need the support of family and friends just to help her get through the day.

Would you pray for her and her family, pray for these days and the challenges ahead.  Pray for her to maintain her faith in the face of the difficulties ahead.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Hospital Evangelism

Part of the work and mission of Kudjip is to help the patients get better physically through medicines and surgery, but the other part of the work and mission is to help the patients understand the love of Christ.   The missionaries are working with our Hospital Chaplains to provide opportunities for our patients to hear about God's love on Sundays.  Recently, a number of us gathered to sing, share God's word and pray with the patients.   I am thankful for the chance to practice medicine and share God's love at the same time.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Training PNG doctors

For the past 5+ years Imelda has been working side by side with us in her Masters of Rural Registry Program.  The Masters in Rural Registry Program is a 6 year program that seeks to train the PNG doctor to be able to go out to a Rural District Hospital in PNG and care for the needs of the community and hospital.  They get training in Administration, Xray, Surgery, OB, Peds, Medicine, Anesthesia, Solar Installation and everything in between.  Mel is in her last year with us and it has been a joy and pleasure to see her grow during her time with us.  We don't know what the future holds for her and her husband, but would love to see them continue to serve and work with us. 

Part of the Rural Registry program is to have surgical training, which occurs through 3 surgery rotations for 3 months at a time, over 3 years.  Imelda did her rotations away from us, getting training from other surgeons in PNG, but other Rural Registrars come to Kudjip to get their surgical training with our surgeons.  We have had a number through the years, and this year have had three.  Winis, is the one with us currently and has been with us for almost 3 months now, working with Ben and Jim in surgery.  I have done a few Csections with him and know he has learned a lot and will be a great doctor for the Telefomin hospital and patients he will serve.  

We also have had a PNG medical student working with our Surgeons over his Christmas Break.  Glenn grew up here, his mom works for us, and is in his 5th year of Medical School in PNG.  He hopes to become a surgeon, and thus is trying to learn all he can while he can. 

We hope to continue to be a place for training of PNG doctors - surgeons, rural registrars, and medical students, with the hope that some will stay with us and serve with us and some will be called to go out and serve in other parts of Papua New Guinea, improving the health care of the country.  We are scheduled to start having regular PNG medical students rotate with us later this year.   It is exciting to see what might come of being more focused on training PNG doctors.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The walls came down

Part of my ability to survive in PNG has been to put up walls to protect myself from taking each patient's illness, hurt, struggle, grief, etc. and carrying it myself.  Despite trying, I have realized that there is only so much that I can do as a doctor, only so many patients that my limited medical resources can help, and only so much that my heart can carry.  So in order to survive, I have learned to put up some walls, I have learned to not ask too many questions when the situation doesn't look good, I have learned not to spend too much time at a bedside when there is little hope.  Right or wrong, it is how I survive, but there are patients who break down that wall without much effort.

Kenduman is one of those patients.  He followed his dad into my exam room, a large scarf wrapped around his neck and shoulder.  I quickly scanned his book, seeing something about a growth on his shoulder, and asked him and his dad, what was wrong.  His dad unwrapped his neck and shoulder revealing a large tumor of his arm.  Instantly the wall came down, there is something about kids with cancer that gets to me every time.  Every time we have a kid with cancer, it goes bad, really really bad, and despite that, my heart opens up to these kids and their families.  I want to be able to help them, I want to be able to cure them - but our resources are so limited, that despite giving them all the meds we have, we don't succeed.  
Despite knowing there was little hope of helping this kid, despite knowing that it was probably too late, my heart was opened and I did what I could to try and help.  I made sure there wasn't any evidence of metastasis to his lungs or his liver, then I talked to our surgeons, to see if there might be a way to remove this tumor.  Unfortunately, as I suspected, the tumor was too big and surgery was no longer an option.  

These cases are the worst because they came too late.  As much as part of me wants to find out more, find out why they didn't come sooner, why they waited so long, I realize that none of that matters.  What I do know is that this dad is from the deep bush, the border between two provinces and not close to much of anything.  He did what he could for his son and what he thought was best, going to the closest health center they had, and when their treatment wasn't enough, they finally found their way to us.  

As we shared what was happening, the dad seemed to understand better than I expected that he was going to lose his son.  The son didn't understand Pidgin too much, and so it was hard to talk to him, but the dad definitely knew the true meaning of Christmas, knew of the love God had for each of us.  There was little more I could do, but pray for them and trust God to comfort them in ways that only He can, and to slowly rebuild the walls around my heart again, until next time.