Thursday, February 25, 2021

Coming Soon: Vision and PT

For years we have talked about wanting and hoping to have the ability to provide Physical Therapy services to our patients, but not having a space or equipment to do it has been one of the set backs.  Just recently, I got an email from a Church in the US (THANKS ORONAZ) who has been a HUGE supporter of the Hospital through the years, who had received a donation towards missions and wondered what projects they might be able to use it for.  After talking with them and giving them some options, they agreed to help us furnish our Physical Therapy Gym.  

When we planned our old Admin Building reconstruction with Dental Clinic, we wanted to make room for other services as well, which is now starting to happen.  Through the waiting room of the Dental Clinic - what used to be our Finance Department, is now the beginning of our Physical Therapy Department.  We need some floor work yet, but we have the open space for our PT gym.  We have had some applications for a Physical Therapist and hope to soon be able to start talking to them and finding the right person to work with us.  We hope to provide both inpatient and outpatient physical therapy.  We do a lot of Orthopedics here and have a lot of folks with broken bones who can use some PT, as well as our Stroke patients and post operative patients.  

Through another door in our old Admin building is another room (Old RHS Director office) that is going to be transformed into a Vision Clinic.  We are hoping to help the "blind to see."  There are some optometry services in the country, but many are expensive and not feasible for the majority of our patient population.  We don't plan to start out too high tech, but hope to be able to provide some reading glasses as well as some basic glasses to patients who are near sighted.  We have partnered with Great Faith Vision, who is helping us develop and get our program started.  We hope, to be able to take our Vision Clinic out beyond our Hospital walls into the bush and partner with our Rural Clinics and church to bring sight to some of the people in the bush, who really have very limited ability to get glasses.  

Despite the empty rooms right now - I am excited about what the future holds and the way God is opening up doors and bringing in partners to help with His Plans for Papua New Guinea through us.  

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

New Dental Clinic

 Our Dental Clinic was located in our old Outpatient Department Building.  When the hospital moved in 2010, we mostly abandoned that building, but over time we redid some of it for Dental and Security offices.  That now has changed with our Hospital Expansion Project.  We now have redone our old Administrative Building and turned it into a Dental Clinic.

We see about 5000 dental patients each year in the clinic.  Dr. Lesther is our PNG dentist, who came to us after finishing her residency at a nearby hospital.  She got to overlap with Sheena, our PostResident dentist who was with us for about 2 years, before joining up with another mission agency in PNG to continue to provide dental services to places in the bush.  Sheena still comes back and helps in training and with our equipment, which we are thankful for.  

Sheena and Lesther have worked with our Dental Staff training up our dental assistants.  Emelda, Clara and Tapita are a vital part of our dental team, and the care that we provide.  We were able to get our Panorex Dental Xray working again after our move and so we are back to being able to do a bit more for our patients.  We have a Dental Resident going to join us in April, for 2 years to train with Dr. Lesther and our team.  We look forward to continuing to be able to serve the people of Jiwaka through our dental ministry.  

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Valentines Pizza and Movie Night

Those of us without kids here joined together to host the kids for Pizza and Movie night while their parents enjoyed a house to themselves for a few hours.   We ate first, and the kids loved the lack of rules regarding amount of desserts they could have.  Overhearing their conversations it was obvious which kid's parents were doctors, as some were telling their friends that they were at risk of getting diabetes by eating all the cookies and brownies.  We watched Ratatouille, did some coloring pages and then tried to run off some of the sugar with Simon says and Bear, Mosquito, Fish.  Only 1 child was run over in the midst of the laughter and craziness, but thankfully made a quick recovery and rejoined the fun.  I believe a good time was had by all.  

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Doctor Relief

For most of 2020, our provider numbers decreased instead of increasing.  Just when we thought we had a bit of a margin in staffing, someone would leave on break or vacation.  We have been surviving with 3-4 fully trained FP/Peds/ER docs, 1 fully trained Surgeon, 1 dentist, and 1 surgical trainee for much of 2020.  While we have been tired, God has been faithful and we have learned to adjust and to reset expectations, but it has taken it's toll on many of us.  We have needed a breather, but didn't know when/where it was coming - but thankfully, we have gotten some relief.  

Sheila Tombil is a PNG doctor who started working with us in October.  She was working in the private sector in Port Moresby after her Medical Training, but has joined our team and is trying to learn as much as she can.  She hasn't worked in a hospital for a number of years, but is asking all the right questions and is like a sponge, learning all she can.  We are excited for her to be a part of our team.

Ben Radcliffe had been gone from PNG for almost a year with the birth of his son and then waiting for his son's passport and visa to be issued before being able to come back with his family.  We were happy to welcome them to PNG on Thanksgiving.  Once quarantine was over, Ben's lack of surgery time in the past year, has meant he has been willing and wanting to do as much surgery as he can.  Alex's first year of surgical training is finished and he has grown competent in doing many surgeries on his own, which has enabled us to schedule more cases, which is a blessing for our patients.  

James Adams is a Canadian GP, who has been here 6 times in the past 10 years, and will have served for more than a year cumulatively during his 3 months with us.  He has only been out of quarantine for a week, but we are already feeling relief from him being with us.  His past experience at Kudjip allows him to step in and be effective right away, which we are so grateful for.  

Daniel Dyer is an US FP, who came in on the same flight as James, and plans to be with us for 2 years.  He is a PostResident from Samaritan's Purse/World Medical Mission.  He worked with us during his training, and so not everything is new to him, but he will take a bit longer (compared to James) to adjust to medicine in PNG.  Thankfully, his training prepared him very well for being a doctor here, and he has jumped in on gaining competency in C-sections and D&Cs and other procedures that he needs some fine tuning in.  We look forward to having him with us for the next 2 years.  

International travel in the midst of Covid continues to be an obstacle to having volunteers come, as does quarantine and the cost of flights, but thankfully we still have folks who are wanting to come.  We have a volunteer surgeon and his wife (Tom and Tina Jurich) scheduled to come end of February along with a new OB/Gyn and her husband (Laura and Taylor Myatt) who will be with us for 2 years.  We look forward to adding more doctors to our staff, as some of the regulars continue to get a break.  

Friday, December 25, 2020

Christmas Star

There has been a lot of talk this year about the Christmas Star with Saturn and Jupiter coming closer together than they have in years in the night sky.  Some folks got to see the "Christmas star" this year in the sky, but other didn't.  For some they didn't see it because of clouds, or because of too much light, or because they just didn't go outside and look.   As I have been reading the Christmas Story during this Advent Season, I have reflected some on the Wise Men - those Magi who traveled from a far away land, using the Star to guide them to Jesus.  They were dependent on the star (as the Bible suggests), that if it wasn't for the star, they wouldn't have found Jesus, they wouldn't have found the Savior.  If that were true this year, if the "Christmas Star" that appeared in the sky the other night - was the only way that anyone had to find Jesus - we would be in trouble.  Clouds, too much light, and disinterest caused many not to see it, and would have caused many not to find Jesus.  Thankfully - it isn't just the star that we have to guide us to Jesus today.

We had Chaplain interviews this week, and as I talked to some of the pastors about what their job might look like as a Chaplain, we talked about evangelism and leading folks to Christ who don't know Christ.  When I asked them how they would do that, many of their responses were - through my life.  They can see Jesus through how I live my life.  The same things that hindered folks from seeing the Christmas Star, can also hinder folks from seeing Jesus in our lives,  there can be too many distractions, too much light or noise from all that we are involved, and just a level of disinterest - but it doesn't mean we don't try.  Sure for some, our lives aren't going to affect the people we encounter, but for others, our love and care for them is the only star they are going to have leading them to Jesus, and I hope that I keep pointing folks the right direction.

As a doctor in a mission hospital, I am faced with a lot of hard situations, and have to tell too many people that our options for helping them are limited on this earth, and I hope and pray that my ability to be a star in this situations helps some to see and look to Jesus, but at times I come home and know there are ways I could have done it better.    

This week, I told a mom that her 2 yo son likely has a cancer of the muscles of his leg and may need an amputation.  The grip she had on her son intensified as the tears started streaming down her face and she hugged him tighter, unsure how much time she had left with him.  Her questions of what we could do, of what options we have, of what this means were all the right questions to ask.  I fought back my own tears, and I did the best I could to answer them and to try and be a Star for her, pointing her to Jesus in the midst of this difficult time.  

I had a mom who just delivered her 5th baby and yet kept bleeding.  We gave her lots of IV fluids, we transfused her blood, we gave her medicines to try and stop the bleeding, and I even did a procedure to remove some of the placenta that was likely causing the bleeding, and yet when the blood kept coming - we had to have a hard decision about maybe needing a hysterectomy to save her life so she could look after her 5 kids and we prayed for wisdom.  Since she was bleeding and the nurses were looking after her closely, I kept checking on her and getting called on her condition, to see if she was going to need surgery or not.  I wasn't sure how things were going to turn out, and spent a lot of the night wondering/waiting for the call that she was bleeding heavily again.  I came in this morning and saw a smile light up on her face, I knew that we were going to be okay, that she wasn't going to need an emergency surgery and that she should be able to walk out of her and care for her 5 kids.  I hope that our care for her helped to point her to Jesus.    

Being on the Delivery Ward this month, I have gotten to be the bearer of good news to many moms, that their premature babies are big enough to graduate from the nursery and that they should be able to go home soon.  But for some moms, I have had to say sorry, the baby was too little, or the lungs weren't mature enough, or the infection was too much for the baby to handle.  These are never easy, as the gift of life that they were anticipating going home with after  8-9 months of carrying this baby inside of them, isn't going to happen.  I pray that our care for these grieving moms helps point them to Jesus.  

I had a pastor, maybe in his early 60s, who came into clinic and found out that he had liver cancer.  He wasn't expecting that news, and yet as we talked about what it meant, he was nothing but smiles and appreciation.  He has known the Savior for years and looks forward to meeting him, and looks forward to using what time he has left to be a "Christmas Star" for others to see Jesus.  

This year hasn't been easy for many, and many are hurting, and many need to know where they can look and find comfort and peace.  I pray that this Christmas Season, we can all be like the Christmas Star - pointing those we are around to the Prince of Peace, to the gift that God sent us on a Christmas morning over 2000 years ago.   Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Moving toward the Goal

This year has sure been unlike any others in my lifetime.  It has been filled with uncertainty, unrest, unexpected, unknown and so many changes, with no definite end in sight.  News of potential vaccines brings some hope, but when they will reach a country like PNG is another issue.  Yet despite this, life continues with new and different challenges, for each of us, than a year ago.  As I reflect on this year, I know there is much to be thankful despite the unknown. 

In quarantine, I have been enjoying the devotional Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman, it seems to be quite applicable to my life today.  The Nov 18th devotion was taken from Luke 7:23, "Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me."  Part of it says, 'When I gave myself to Him, I had hoped that my skies would always be fair, but often they are overcast with clouds and rain.  But I must believe that when difficulties remain, it is that I may learn to trust Him completely - to trust and not be afraid.  And it is through mental and emotional struggles that I am being trained to tutor others who are being tossed by the storm."  

This is part of my recent prayers - to continue to trust and not be afraid, even when the difficulties or clouds and rain remain, to know and realize there are others in the storm too.  Life does spring up in deserts and in places with little rain, and we never quite know when someone is looking to us to help encourage them through their storms.  So we must always be ready, using the whatever water comes our way, to grow and flourish where we are despite the challenges and storms around us.  


Later, in the same devotion, there is a quote by Freda Hanbury Allen:

"Blessed are you, O child of God, who does suffer,
And cannot understand 
The reason for your pain, yet will gladly leave
Your life in His blest Hand.

Yes, blessed are you whose faith is "not offended"
By trials unexplained,
By mysteries unresolved, past understanding, 
Until the goal is gained." 

Leaving the unknown and the pain in God's hands, isn't always easy for me, but I know there is more to today then the pain or suffering I might feel, and there is a goal, even if not always easy to see, or there are obstacles along the way, which He has called me to.  So for me, I hope to keep moving toward the goal - which for me is to be faithful to the call He has on my life to serve in PNG through my medical skills at the Hospital, until He calls me elsewhere.  

Friday, November 6, 2020

Heading back to Kudjip

I have been in the US for the past almost 3 months for a delayed Home Assignment from May.  Home Assignment is a balance of connecting with churches and supporters and finding ways to be renewed and refreshed in order to serve again for another term.  With all the added stress Covid has had on serving overseas, the time at home seemed more needed that most HAs.  I have found that being outside in God's creation helps in my renewal and refreshing and so while home, I look for opportunities to do just that.  Thankfully, I don't have to look or go very far, as my home base is my sister's house and their 40 acres gives me lots of opportunities to be outside.  I was thankful to be to see friends and family while home, and connect with some churches over Zoom and through videos.  In many ways, in the past
3 months, the US (or the parts I have seen) have seemed pretty normal - other than you wear a mask when inside stores, but I was thankful that things were open.  I was also thankful that I got to enjoy 3 seasons while here - summer, fall and winter.  I got to enjoy the snow twice, once driving through a pretty good snowstorm, helping me to relearn how to drive in the snow again.  It has been a good Home Assignment, but now it is time for me to head back and continue the work in PNG.