Friday, June 18, 2021

Vision Clinic Update

The Vision Clinic is getting close to being opened.  With the help of Great Faith Vision, our Vision team has learned how to do basic near and distance exams.  We have been practicing on some of our missionaries before starting to see our first patients who will be our own staff.  

As someone who has gone to the eye doctor annually since 6th grade, I realized in helping our Dental Team get ready, that when you have never gone to an eye doctor, that doing an exam can be frightening.  For most exams we give, there is a right answer, and helping our staff to understand there is no "right" answer, but whatever helps the patient see better is the right answer, has helped to change their anxiety about doing the exams right.  We will get in some more practice in the next week or so and then start with our staff and see if we can help some of them see better, before opening it up to patients.  

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Old Friends/Family

One of the many blessing of serving as a Missionary at Kudjip is the chance to meet so many different people who come to help and serve.  Through the years you meet missionaries who serve full time for years before being called home for retirement or to the next step for them, you have volunteers who come for a month or two and who keep coming back, and you have folks who come and serve with us for a shorter period of time (6months - 2 years) and then head back to a new assignment God calls them on, and many others as well.

Through God's timing and planning, we were able to welcome 5 old friends back at Kudjip about 3 weeks ago to serve with us for a period of time.  Jim and Kathy Radcliffe, who served here for over 32 years, came back for 2 months to work in our surgical department and to help with our Covid vaccine clinic.  Scott Dooley, who served here with his family for over 15 years, came back to help out in OPD/Medical and Covid Ward for about 3 weeks.  Scot and Tyronza Pringle are volunteers who keep coming back, they started coming about the same time I got here in 2007, and keep coming back most years.  Scot is an OB/GYN doctor and has helped cover our delivery ward and teach many of us OB/GYN surgical skills.  Tyronza fills in however and wherever she can.  This year, she is helping with our supply and medicine distributions, and they will be with us for 2 months.  

With the Pandemic still affecting air travel, getting our volunteers back into PNG has been a bit challenging, especially with need to quarantine.  Thankfully, Heart to Heart International, was asked to bring an emergency medical team to PNG to help with Covid teaching and relief, and they contacted us to see if we needed some help, and our friends were able to come and join us again.  We appreciate all our volunteers, but there is something extra special about having former missionaries return again, having family come home again.  There is less to explain, less for them to need to learn and they can jump right in because of their knowledge of the language, culture and medicine we practice here.  So it has been a huge blessing to have them back.

They got here the day before our Hospital Expansion Project Mumu.  Scott, in his time here, worked hard to get that project started and had a vision for what it would look like when finished, but he left before it was finished.  So it was special to have him back for the mumu and to get to see the finished project that he worked hard to bring about.  Scot Pringle being here is a great blessing with us having a new OB/GYN doctor in Laura.  Scot is a great teacher and many of us have enjoyed having him teach us about Csections or delivering babies and we hope Laura will appreciate having him around as well.  Our new doctors - Sheila and Spencer are always enjoying having him around to teach them.  Jim and Kathy have touched so many  lives in their years of service here, but it is especially nice for them to be back and see their kids (Ben and Katherine) and grandkids and their lives and service here.  

Thankful for these friends and for all the others who weren't able to come back this time, but have been a part of this Kudjip Family through the years.  

Friday, June 4, 2021


 There is only so much that we can do medically.  I tell patients all too often, that we have nothing medically to change the situation, but God has the power to heal people, and sometimes he makes the blind see, the lame walk, and the deaf hear.  I have seen some miracles, not as many as I would like to see, but I have definitely seen some, and Steven was one of those.

I walked into the ER and saw a number of charts waiting for a doctor to see them.  I picked one up, and glanced at the chart that the nurses had started.  It said, patient died at home, heart started beating, brought in.  I scanned the physical part of the chart and found the patient seemed to be unresponsive and had a very slow heart rate.  I wasn't too optimistic as I headed over to Bed #2 in the ER.  

I got to the bed and found a very nice mattress under a man who didn't seem to have much life to him.  I asked the two people with him, who I assumed were his parents, if they could share with me what happened and what brought them in.  They told me that their son, Steven, had died yesterday. They had cried and kept his body at home, but this am, his heart started beating and so they brought him in to see if we could help.  Looking through his clinic book, I found that he had a history of liver cirrhosis, so it wasn't looking good that we were going to be able to help him.

When I examined him, I found that his heart was beating only about 50 times/minute (which is slow), he didn't withdraw his arms or his legs when I tried to induce pain, and his eyes had a film on them and didn't react to light.  None of this looked promising for his future, but he was alive and they wanted our help and so I talked to the family and wasn't very encouraging, but they asked that we admit him and see what happens, so I did.

The following day, I rounded on our medical ward, and he was just laying in the bed, didn't look like he had moved at all.  When I talked to his family, they didn't provide me with anything to give us hope that he might turn around.  I told them we would keep doing what we were doing, but it didn't look good, they seemed to understand.  

The next day when I rounded, I noticed that there were blankets on bed number 27, but there was no one in the bed.  I assumed that he had passed away sometime during the previous day, and a new person had come in to take that bed.  But shortly there after, a guy walked down the ward and sat on the bed.  I picked up the chart and found the same chart I had the past 2 days for Steven.  I looked at the guy sitting on the bed, and I asked him his name, certain that this wasn't Steven.  He told me his name was Steven.  I couldn't believe it.  His family wasn't with him, so I couldn't ask them what happened, so I kept talking to Steven.  He seemed just fine, he in no way seemed like he had been on the edge of death just 24 hours earlier.  

When we finished talking, I asked him if he went to church, he told me he did.  I asked him if he knew the story of Lazarus, he said he did.  I told him I was going to call him that.  The patients and family members around him laughed, and then translated what I said into his Tok Ples.  He laughed once he fully understood what I was saying.  I told him if he looked this good tomorrow, he could go home.

The next day when I got to the ward, he was sitting there smiling, as if everything was fine, his mom next to him at his bedside.  I greeted him as Lazarus and he laughed, and then after a brief visit I sent him home.  I will never know what happened to make him almost die, nor why God choose to perform a miracle in Steven's life.  I don't know if Steven heard something like Lazarus did when Jesus called to him in John 11:43-44, "Lazarus, come out."  The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth.  Jesus said to them, "Unbind him and let him go."  

Some things we just will never understand in this life, but I know for sure God does miracles and have seen a number of them in my time here.  While I wish there were more, I am thankful for the ones I do see, and thankful that Steven's was one of them.  

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Patient Kitchen Upgrade

When our patients come to the Hospital, their families are responsible to provide a lot of what they need while they are with us.  However, we help out as best we can.  We have a patient kitchen, which serves our patients kauakau or rice with some tin fish or lamb flaps or chicken each day.  

For some of our patients who might be malnourished or need some extra nutrition while they are here (patients with tuberculosis, HIV, cancer, etc), we provide something called Nutrition Soup.  This is usually a lot of vegetables and some eggs, that they get to help increase their calorie intake while they are with us.  

We have been working to update and improve our Patient Kitchen area, with some new workspaces, and tables to eat on, new ventilation, sinks and some paint.  Here are a few pictures of the new work, and some of our patients enjoying the kitchen and lawn area.  
With 150 beds, we often have 100 or so patients in our hospital at any one time, if not more, so the Kitchen stays pretty busy.  There is also a little store, called the Canteen, which sells some food, both hot food (red sausage, flour balls, broccoli, chicken, chips (French fries) and more, as well as some staples like sugar, salt, flour, and rice, as well as some snack foods - cookies, pop, and other kinds of crackers.  Pts are able to cook their own food, right outside the patient kitchen where there are little fire pits set up that they use.  

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Hike to Mt. Tabi

Despite what most of my posts seem like, there are times when I am not at the hospital.  One weekend recently, a group of us hiked up to a place called Mt. Tabi.  It is a mountain that overlooks Kudjip station.  
John Opa, has been a friend of missionaries for years.  He has worked for security and maintenance and our projects, as well as coming and selling avocados to us on station.  He also, serves as our local hiking guide at times.  Mt. Tabi is his mountain, and he enjoys showing us the sites, as well as introducing us to PNG life and culture.
We enjoyed trying sugar cane, and Taylor even tried "salad."  A leaf that they claim takes away pain.  For those of us who have accidentally rubbed against it, we have discovered that it doesn't take pain away, it causes pain.  Wherever the small thorny parts of the leaf poke your skin, a local reaction occurs, causing inflammation and pain - which maybe takes away the deeper pain, but sure makes pain on the surface.  So many of our patients use it regularly for pain relief, but I prefer Ibuprofen.
As always, we gathered a group of children on our hike, most were related to John, or from Konduk Church and joined us as we passed.  I am pretty sure they come for the entertainment that we provide.  They do help us and give us a hand to steady ourselves, but they also laugh with us as we slide down the slippery clay trails.  They sure are a joy.  


Friday, May 7, 2021

Covid Vaccine

When the rest of the world was dealing with the Global Pandemic, for a long time, PNG was spared of the devastation it was causing, but all that somewhat changed in the beginning of this year.  We went from having about 1000 cases to now over 11,000.  Compared to some countries, our numbers are still quite small, but it is affecting us.  

Our Resp Isolation Ward has had as many as 18 people admitted at one time, but more often have about 10-15 patients in there who need oxygen to treat their disease.  Our ward becomes a temporary home for many of our patients.  Today I discharged 6 people, 3 of these having been there for about a month now.  Thankfully, our patients have the support of their families which has made a big difference.  Our nurses and doctors are doing all they can to care for them and to try and give them the best care we can provide in a safe way to those who need it.   Despite doing all we can, some patients have died. There are over 100 deaths in the country so far, some at our hospital.  

Knowing that there are really only a couple of ways out of this - either everyone gets Covid and we see who is left standing, or we get vaccinated.  Thankfully, our Australian neighbors and the people of India and Gavi/Covax Alliances - we have been able to get some doses of Covid vaccine in the country.  We initially got 8000 from Australia, and then more recently got 130,000 doses from India, to help protect our front line workers.  

We got 500 doses of the vaccine this week, which should be enough to put into the arms of all of our Hospital workers and Front Line Workers here.  We were able to start putting it into the arms of some of our workers this week.  Many of our doctors and some of our staff have been waiting and couldn't wait to get a shot.  A number of the doctors and some of our Surgery Staff were the first to get the vaccine.  While there is still apprehension and fear from some of our workers, we hope that by getting it we can encourage others to get it also.  

We not only want to try and protect ourselves and our families, but also our patients.  We are diagnosing around 3 new cases a day, but likely are seeing even more with mild symptoms that we don't even recognize or they don't recognize.  So by getting vaccinated, we want to be able to ensure our doors are still open, because our staff is well and not out with Covid.  We want our operating rooms to have enough staff to do the emergency surgery or Section, our Delivery room to have midwives who can help our moms deliver babies, our Emergency Room has nurses who can care for those who need help, and more.  

Saturday, May 1, 2021

New OT Complex

Just before Covid hit in March - we were working on transitioning into our new Operating Room Complex.  Jordan, Earl and Don put in a lot of time with their team of Project guys to take our 2 operating theaters and turn them into 4, plus add a Minor Procedure Room.  
We had a lot of dust and noise for a number of months, but the finished product was worth it.   Our staff  sure seem to enjoy the new building.  

In the last month here, we have had surgical trainees (Maxwell and Alex), a Volunteer Surgeon (Tom), our Surgeon (Ben), and then our new Ob/Gyn doctor (Laura).  So those 4 OTs have already been put to good use.   Many lives have already been saved by having these OTs, and we know more will be in the days ahead.  
I have done a few Csections in our new OTs, which is all I get to do in there, which is a good thing.  I am so thankful for our surgical folks who have their years of training and expertise to do what I an our other doctors aren't trained to do.