Saturday, October 9, 2021

Covid is back

In March of this year, we had our first case of Covid-19, and that wave lasted a few months, but by the end of June, we had hit a lull in our Covid cases at Kudjip, and were thankful.  During that 1st wave, at Kudjip, we diagnosed over 120 patients with COVID, having around 70 of those admitted to our expanding Respiratory Isolation Ward (RIW).  Our RIW went from 6 - 10 - 14 - 30 beds in the span of a few weeks, as the number of cases increased and the need for our hospital to care for those patients became more and more apparent.  In those 3 months, we had figured out, in our setting with our limitations, what worked to treat Covid.  We could provide oxygen, but had no ventilators or staff who could run them, we have dexamethasone and antibiotics, but we don't have the more expensive treatment options that other parts of the world are able to provide.    Like everywhere around the world, some patients died, but many many more walked out and went home.  

While we enjoyed the break of Covid from midJune-August, we knew it would come back, especially with the Delta Variant increasing the case numbers all over the world.  The beginning of September is when Covid came back to Kudjip, and it seems to be hitting us harder than it did last time.  In just over a month's time we have already diagnosed over 140 patients, and our RIW has had as many as 22 patients in it at one time (18 was the most in the first wave).  We have already made plans to have an additional RIW to allow us to have as many as 40 patients who need oxygen as they fight to recover from Covid.  

Thankfully, at the end of April last year, we were able to start vaccinating our staff and high risk patients, while not everyone got vaccinated, over half of our staff did, and so when this second wave came, more of us were as protected as we could be.  The 2nd wave has certainly hit us harder, with over 25 of our staff getting Covid at about the same time.  Thankfully, so far, our staff have had mild illnesses and haven't been hospitalized.  We have been struggling to keep all our services open because of the staff who are out, and so just this week, we have had to scaledown our services to just emergencies only.  We are hoping that in the next few days, we can either combine two of our wards so that we can have some extra staff to keep us going, or more of our staff are able to rejoin the work force.  

Please keep praying for all affected by Covid around the world, and for all the medical providers who don't just have Covid patients - but have all the regular patients too who need our help.  

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Independence Day

PNG Independence Day is a big thing in PNG and at Kudjip.  There are games and dancing and lots of red, black and yellow.  Each PNG Independence Day (Sept 16th) is also a milestone for me and my missionary journey.  It was 14 years ago now, that I first came to PNG on Independence Day.  I don't remember much of that first one, as I was jet lagged and missed my last flight to Mt. Hagen, but I was thankful to be here starting my missionary career.  14 years later - I am still thankful to be here, getting to serve with my brothers and sisters here at Kudjip.  

When I first came, it was for 2 years, not knowing what was next.  About a year in, God called me to serve long term and it became clear over time, that Kudjip was to be my home, until He called me elsewhere.  I am not looking for another calling, I am thankful for the chance to serve here and to be able to bring Light and Life to some of the darkness in PNG.  


Friday, September 10, 2021

We Are Open

After having some funding challenges this past year, we are thankful to be open again.  We started scaling down our operations the end of August, in anticipation of needing to close completely come mid October, but thankfully, the PNG government came through with funding.  The Prime Minister became aware of our situation, and made sure we got the funding we need to keep operating for the rest of this year.  

This is our outpatient waiting area, which is typically fully of patients each Clinic day, but the week of our scale down, this is what we saw, just a handful of patients.  We are here to serve the patients who need our help, and so it was quite painful to know that many patients weren't getting the help they needed during our scaling down, but thankfully, the only lasted a short time, and all our services have resumed.  

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Good Samaritan

 Max was visiting his friends at their house talking and eating, when they heard something outside.  They looked outside and saw that across the river, a house had caught on fire, and they thought they heard some voices from the house.  Without stopping to think or process what was happening, they took off running towards the house.  As they did, they heard screaming, someone was inside.  


When they crossed the river that night, they found 2 houses, both on fire, but someone was inside and was screaming.  The tried to go in, but the door was locked.  Looking around for something to help them get into the house, they found a log and were able to break down the door.  As they opened the door, the smoke and flames rushed out, and they rushed in.   

They found an old woman, trapped inside and pulled her out to safety.  Knowing they were far from help, they used an old customary medical practice and rubbed honey on her burns, to try and help.  Then they picked up the old mama and carried her to the road, hoping that someone would drive by and would help them take her to the hospital.  

It was around 9 pm when my phone rang.  I was on call with Spencer, one of our new PNG doctors.  He told me, a lady had been brought in who was burned pretty bad, and so I made my way to the hospital.  When I got there I found 4 guys huddled around a bed, with an old mama on the bed.  One of the guys was in the middle of taking off his shirt to put over her as I got closer to her.  I asked what happened, and they didn't really know.  

They didn't know this woman, didn't know her name, just heard a fire and someone yelling, and they ran to help her, and then were able to find a ride to bring her to the hospital.  I was touched by their practice of being Good Samaritans.  

The nurse, nursing students, Spencer and I spent quite a bit of time in the Emergency Room with our burn victim, trying to clean her up and wrap up her burns and get her clean and dry for the night, praying she would make it despite her extensive burns.  I assumed that Max and his friends would take off while we were cleaning her up, they weren't family, they didn't know who this lady was, but instead as soon as we were done, they wanted to know where we put her and where she was going to stay.  They planned to stay with her.  They also asked what did they owe for the ER and bed fee for this woman.  I was so grateful for their care of this woman, that I was glad I could say nothing.  

 

A lawyer asked Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life, and Jesus responded, asking "What is written in the Law?"  The lawyer said, "You shall love the Lord your God will all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself."  The lawyer then asked, "Who is my neighbor?", and Jesus shared the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), to demonstrate who our neighbor is.  

This is a story that many of us know, and many of us try and be the "Good Samaritan" when given the chance to do so.  I was thankful to have met Max and his friends and hope I can be like them when an opportunity comes my way.  

Thursday, August 5, 2021

New Doctors and a Dentist

2020 was hard on us as a hospital due to the restrictions of Covid.  Not that we were having cases here, but as the Pandemic spread throughout the world, the ability for us to get reinforcements for our physicians became nonexistent.  This took a toll on us, and we lost some of our physician staff as a result.  When we got back  some of our doctors from their time in the US on Home Assignment, this was encouraging, but so is having new doctors join us.  

Since last October we have had 4 new physicians join us, 2 PNGians and 2 from World Medical Missions Post Residency Program, and 1 new PNG dental resident.  
 

Sheila joined us first.  She is a PNG physician who has family in our Province, but spent most of her life in Port Moresby, the capitol.  She graduated from UPNG Medical School a few years ago and has been working in POM, but last year came back to Jiwaka and has been a blessing to have work with us.  We tend to do things a bit different than other hospitals in PNG, so it often takes doctors a bit of time to adjust to our way of doing things.  She jumped in willing to do whatever was needed, and has been great, both as a worker, and as a learner.  She recently has enjoyed spending time in our Labor Ward with our 2 O&G doctors with us, and now will be spending some time with our surgical team.  She is hoping to stay around for the next 6 years doing the Rural Registrar Program, which we are excited about.  

 


Daniel came from the US, having finished his Family Practice training in Colorado in June, paperwork delays caused him not to get to us until February.  Thankfully, his training in the US prepared him for what we would ask of him.  He came having a lot of obstetrical experience, which was a huge blessing to us, as he was able to quickly join the call pool, when we were short staffed.  He will be with us for the next 2 years for sure through the Post Residency Program, and with the questions he asks, will be well prepared for whatever God might call Him next, hopefully here J  

 

Laura joined us from the US a month after Daniel, also delayed due to paperwork issues with Covid.  She is our first Ob/Gyn doctor who has been with us full time, and we have learned a lot together.  Our Ob/Gyn practice is a bit different than her training, so thankfully we have a number of surgeons and OBs here since she arrived, to help guide her through some of what her training didn’t quite prepare her for.  The laparoscopic and robotic surgery that she perfected in the US, isn’t quite as helpful here (especially when we don’t have the robot J).  We are learning together, how best to utilize her and her skills and where she can be the most help to our patients.  Her 2 years with the PostResidency Program will go by quick, but we are hoping she and her husband Taylor stick around too.

 

Spencer joined us the end of April.  He came to us as our first UPNG medical student about 3 years ago and spent 6 weeks with us.  While we didn’t have much to compare it to, we felt like he was quite bright, and we kept in touch through his finishing up of his medical training and then into his 2 years required Residency training in POM that he did.  When he finished his residency, he wrote and asked if he could come here and work with us, and we were happy to be able to say yes.  While it has really only been 3 months, he has already learned so much of what and how we do things here, and is a great help on call.  He is still thinking through the next steps in his life, but based on what we have seen, we would be happy to have him continue to work with us.  


 

Pauline grew up on our station.  Her mom is a nurse and midwife and her dad worked in our finance department.  She finished her dental schooling this April and is now with us for 2 months to complete her dental residency working with Lesther, our dentist.   So instead of just having 1 dentist here, we have 1 and 1 trainee, which allows us to do a bit more.  It is great having some station folks coming back to do medicine and dentistry and serve the people here.  



After having only 3 or 4 regular doctors for most of last year, having 7 doctors, plus an OB/Gyn, and 1 surgeon and 1 surgical trainee, and 1 dentist and 1 dental trainee, working now full time with us, is an amazing blessing.   



Thursday, July 15, 2021

4th of July get together

The missionaries enjoyed getting together over 4th of July weekend to spend some time together, enjoy Hobo dinner, some games of corn hole and Kubb, and donuts made by Cathy Hartwig.  As for many of us in the Pandemic, it had been a while since we have come together, but we took advantage of the low number of cases and spent a nice afternoon outside.  

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Snorkeling

Snorkeling is the main activity that happens in Madang when you go on vacation.  I don't know all the names of the fish, but Finding Nemo has taught me some.  I got to meet Merlin and Nemo this time in their sea anemone home. 
 
I enjoy just hovering over the reefs and taking the time to watch and observe the activities of the fish.  In doing so, I often realize that things that I thought were sticks or old coral or the sand are actually camouflaged fish that I miss when I just swim over them.  There are so many different kinds of coral too that always make snorkeling fun, as you never know what you might see.




Some kids were able to find an octopus one day as we were out snorkeling and they were fishing.  I kept trying to spot arms or legs when I was out there, but never saw anything that seemed like an octopus, but the kids sure spot them.  


The Blue Starfish is definitely my favorite underwater creature in Madang, and we saw a lot of him.