Friday, April 28, 2017

Hospital's 50th Anniversary videos

Kudjip Nazarene Hospital recently celebrated it's 50th year of service, and we had a big anniversary celebration.  Leading up to the Anniversary celebration, we collected pictures from the past 50 years in the efforts to create a book and videos.  We hoped to remind us of our history, to remember those who have gone before and how we started, and where we are now.  We got over 1800 pictures, but despite that, I know we were missing pictures of different events or of different people - sorry.  Working with what we had, we created these videos which we showed during our Anniversary Celebration.  

You can see the videos on the Hospital's You Tube site:, or I have embedded them here, for those who would like to see them.  

The Beginning - A look at the first 20-30 years of the hospital

Old Hospital - Pictures from about 1980/90s through to 2008/9 right before we moved into the new hospital.

Hospital Transition - From the Old Hospital 2008, to the building of the new hospital, the move into and then using the new Hospital in Nov 2009.

New Hospital - A look at the New Hospital from 2009-2016

Today - A look at the people of today, the staff, the doctors, and the patients.

Hope you enjoyed them.  

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Mammoth Cave National Park

When I am not busy speaking at churches or meeting with supporters to share about the work in PNG, I like to try and see what I can at our country's National Parks.  Since I get to travel around the country speaking, I try and find what parks are close by and make the most of my time there.

This week I have been speaking in Indianapolis, so I ventured south to Kentucky with friends I first met in Kudjip.  Rachel and Jordan Thompson are fellow missionaries with me in Kudjip, and Joyce (Rachel's mom) and Linda (Jordan's aunt) have been to Kudjip numerous times visiting their family.  They live close to Indianapolis, and so we road tripped south to see Mammoth Cave NP.  We hiked around outside the cave and then did cave tours to get to see the inside.  On the way, we saw signs for the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, so we stopped on our way back, learning a bit about where President Lincoln was born.  Both were quite nice to see and I would recommend them to those who might be traveling in the area.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Back in Pennsylvania

I left PNG the end of March and traveled back to Pennsylvania for my Home Assignment.  I spent the first week studying for my Family Practice Boards, and now am gearing up to start speaking and sharing with friends, family, supporters and churches over the next few months.  Part of being home, means spending time and reconnecting with family and I am thankful for the support of my family both when I am away and home.  My sister and brother-in-law open up their home to me for the next 4 months and I am thankful to be able to be a part of their family, and enjoy getting to reconnect with my nephews and niece and seeing them grow up.  

I haven't been home in PA in the spring for over 10 years, so I am trying to get used to the variety of weather I have experienced over the past 10 days - with temps of 30 degrees with snow to 70 degrees and sun the next.  Glad I have a wide variety of clothes and my sister's closet to steal from.

Up next is Easter and then a District Tour in Indianapolis and Mammoth Cave National Park.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Meet the Masons

Nathan Mason is a Family Practice doctor who, along with his wife Beckey, has been interested in Medical Missions for a number of years.  As their family developed and they adopted two kids with Down Syndrome, they expected the doors to serve to be closed.  2 years ago, as we sent out a plea for new doctors to join us, the Masons expressed their interest, but weren't sure if they would be accepted.  Well now, almost 2 years later, they are here with their family serving at Kudjip.

After spending a few weeks doing cultural and language training, Nathan is now getting his feet wet in the hospital.  Medicine is quite different in PNG than in the US, so we try and give all our new doctors an opportunity to spend time with some of the long serving doctors, trying to learn some of the intricacies of PNGian medicine.  It will be a few months before Nathan really feels comfortable practicing in his new country and communicating and speaking Pidgin with the patients, but we are sure happy he is here.

Beckey has her hands full with their 5 children and home schooling.  She too is learning Pidgin and trying to learn how to care for her family in PNG.  The kids have jumped into school and are enjoying getting to know and play with the other station kids here.  They are excited about being here and are trying to share their adventures and firsts with everyone on their blog - please check it out.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Meet Sheryl

Sheryl Uyeda is a General Surgeon who has come to us through Samaritan's Purse and the PostResidency Program (the very program that first got me to Kudjip).  She is now our 4th post resident.   Sheryl and I had the chance to go to Sangapi for a week.  She learned about the PNG culture and language while I saw patients.  It was great to spend time with her that week out of the hospital and just to get to know her better.  She has a heart for the PNG people already and is anxious to start learning more and more about doing surgery in PNG.

She started call this week and I quickly got her some surgical experience when I called her with a ruptured ectopic, which went great.  We were hoping she would get here back in the fall, but due to paperwork delays in entering the country, she just got here in February.  We are certainly thankful she is here, and I am thankful she can overlap some with Jim before he heads back for Home Assignment.  Just as medicine here is different than in the US, so is surgery, but there isn't anyone better to learn surgery from than someone who has served and been operating in PNG for over 30 years now.

You can learn more about her adventures and experiences on her blog.

Friday, March 24, 2017

A night to forget

Amidst the rain pouring down on the roof, I hear the phone ring and look around my house for the phone.  Locating it, I hear a nurse on the other end asking me to come to the ER for a sick child.  Thankful for a vehicle to keep me somewhat dry in the pouring rain, I make my way to the ER.  Expecting to only find one patient in the ER, I am surprised to find an ER full of patients and their loved ones.

When more than one patient is waiting in the ER for a doctor, it can be hard to know which patient to see first.  I quickly glanced at each of the patients sitting or laying on the Emergency Room, observing them each for a moment, trying to identify the sickest one that needs my immediate attention.  As I am scanning the room, my eyes fall on the child laying on Bed 3.  He is laying almost motionless on the bed, his mom standing over him, hand holding his arm, his dad, crouched down at the foot of his bed, and make my way towards them.
As I got to the bed, I asked mom and dad what was going on, as I started examining their son.  They reported the diarrhea started just the night before, and that he has been weak since, but he wasn't vomiting, had no blood in his stool, and hadn't had any pig meat.  From their history, I would have expected the child to not be very sick.  All kids have diarrhea, but the majority end up being just fine and don't even see a doctor, but not this kid.  This kid was sick.  He wasn't moving, he wasn't crying, his eyes were open, but he wasn't looking at me, he was looking more beyond me.  As I reached out to examine him, his hands and legs were cold, his skin was mottled, and I was very concerned. 

I quickly asked the nurse to draw up some antibiotics, told the parents the child (18 months old) was very sick and that we would try everything we could and then we prayed.  As I was writing up his admission, I couldn't help but think we were too late, that this kid wasn't going to make it.  Despite those thoughts, I kept writing the orders to do everything we could to help him get better and prayed it to be true. 

After seeing him, I again scanned the ER and found another child being held in his mother's arms.  This kid was crying, was pulling at the oxygen tubing that was going into his nose, both of which seemed like an improvement from the last child I admitted, so I made my way to his bed.  Mom was holding her 3 month old son in her lap, trying to console this little boy who did not want oxygen in his nose.  As I got closer and looked at it, it was obvious that he was pretty pale and likely anemic.  Mom said he had been passing dark black stool for a number of weeks, and recently had gotten short of breath, so she made her way to Kudjip. 

She lives about 2 days away, and it wasn't easy for her to get to us, but she finally made it on this wet and rainy day and not too soon.  Her son was very pale, had lost a lot of blood, his heart was pounding in his chest about as hard as the rain was hitting the roof above us.  I was encouraged that he was crying and fighting, a better sign than the last child.  He, too, was shortly admitted with IV fluid, medicines and an order to give him a blood transfusion. 

I saw a few adults and then, another mom walked in carrying her small child.  The child had sparse, thin, reddish tinged hair and looked like small for his age.  As I approached, I could tell he was struggling to breathe.  A quick glance in his scalebook, reminded me that I had seen him just a few days before, but this kid was now much sicker.  He was malnourished, his ribs were protruding out and he was using extra muscles to breathe, making his ribs seem to stick out even more.  He had pneumonia which was complicated by his malnutrition and his body's lack of strength to fight off infections.   I talked to mom about him needing to be admitted, prayed with them and then wrote up the admission. 
A few hours later, while trying to sleep, I get a call from the pediatric ward, a kid was arresting, could I come.  As I quickly got dressed and made my way down to the ward, I was thinking through the kids I had just admitted, wondering which one they might be calling about.  When I got there, I walked past the bed of the anemic kid who seemed to be struggling and made my way to the wailing at the far side of the ward.  I found the parents of the child with dying crying as their son lay lifeless on the bed.  Our antibiotics and IVFs seemed to be too late, his heart stopped, then his breathing and we couldn't change it. 

As I finished with him, I made my way back down the ward to see the anemic kid.  His hemoglobin came back at 1.7 (normal is at least above 10), he had already received blood, but he started vomiting up blood, and was having trouble breathing.  I adjusted some medicines, and prayed with his mom, but I didn't expect him to be with us much longer.    The malnourished kid was still holding on, but I wasn't real hopeful that he was going to make it either. 

I left the ward feeling somewhat dejected.  We were in the middle of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the hospital, of celebrating the lives the hospital had touched both through physical and spiritual healing, and here I was heading home after one child died, with another one about to die and a third likely going to die before the sun came up.  Questions started flooding my head - wondering if I should have used a different medicine, should have chosen a different kind of IVF, if I had missed a diagnosis, if there was anything I could have done to help change the outcome of these kids.  There was nothing I could think of to do differently, and somehow as I laid in bed praying, I fell asleep.  

Before rounding the next morning, I went to the pediatric ward and found 3 charts waiting for me to sign.  I had admitted 3 kids the day before and all 3 had died.  These aren't the kinds of numbers that I want to blog about, aren't the kinds of nights I care to remember, but they happen at Kudjip, and I wish there was something we could do differently to prevent it.  I wish we could find a way to reach all the people in the bush, in the hard to reach places of PNG and give them early access to good medical care, I wish we could better help malnourished kids, wish we had a way to help them gain weight and strength quickly, had a weigh to change their home environment so they had all the food they needed to be healthy, I wish all the kids near us got all their vaccines so they wouldn't be at risk for preventable diseases.  I wish kids wouldn't die, wish parents didn't have to wait so long in naming their child, for fear they aren't going to make it.  I wish we had all the medicines, all the supplies, all the bed space we needed to care for everyone who was sick and needed our care.  Despite my wishes, there is still a reality, a world that I live and work in, where kids do die, where lack of availability of resources, vaccines, health centers puts kids at risk of dying way before they should.  

For the past 50 years Kudjip Nazarene Hospital has been a bright spot, has brought life in many ways to many families and sick patients, and I pray we continue to to make a difference in the lives of many who come by sharing Christ's love with them as we care for their physical bodies too.  Please pray for us as we continue to seek God to know how we can continue to be a light and to offer hope to those who come.