It’s hard to believe we have been in Tanzania for less than a week. The medical and surgical teams got off to a brisk start and have been hard at work ever since. Now that the dust is settling a bit (and, in Tanzania, that is more than just a metaphor), we have some time to reflect. PJ (aka Patricia Johnson) one of our new surgical nurses has provided some wonderful photos and updates thus far, in addition to sharing her wonderful OR skills. The surgical team at St Elizabeth has now done over 23 surgeries. Two of the patients Dr. Tiner had helped last year returned for some fine tuning. Our lovely young lady whose arm had been attached to her side after a serious burn came to visit and express her great thanks to the team for changing her life. A young patient with a cleft lip will now join her ranks after a successful repair. Dr. Aaron Lewis, our surgical resident has been working hard in the OR and seems unfazed by the sometimes improvisational necessities of working in Africa. Like all of Team Tanzania, Sal Salvador our ortho tech, has provided essential support to the talented, patient and perpetually pleasant Dr. George Tang. Dr. Bushnell carefully, competently and compassionately tends to the anesthesia, while Vicki Landini, our veteran surgical nurse is always at their sides. In the recovery room, Tom Warren, Kathy Eastwood and Anne Dickinson carrie on the superlative care. Mike Eastwood (aka “magical Mike”) has resuscitated the bovi machine from what appeared to have been a terminal illness and appears to be the only team member brave enough to fiddle with Tanzanian electrical outlets. None of the surgical accomplishments could happen without the kind patience and expertise of Susie Lompe.
While the surgeons are ensconced at St E, the medical team is forging ahead at the Kisongo clinic. As the home village of Ezekiel Moirana, our medical student, now physician, we are honored to help improve the facility and work with their talented staff. For the last 4 days, Drs. Ryan Joo and Albert Kashanian have been tending to patients with a whole host of diseases not usually encountered on the wards of Huntington Hospital. In addition to several cases of trachoma ( one of the leading causes of blindness in Africa), they have seen cutaneous anthrax, impetigo, hydrocephalus, likely cases of malaria, infectious diarrhea, horrendous hypertension and, oh yes, a finger lost to a black mamba. On Tuesday, in addition to the 68 patients seen, two babies were born at the clinic. Sally Eastman, Linda Jackson and Cheryl Kuratomi set up a fine pharmacy. Mickey Singer, carpenter extraordinaire whipped up a set of shelves a trestle table and a surgical arm board for Dr. Tiner. Anne and Kathy pulled double duty checking in a mass of humanity. Wednesday was market day in the village, so, while patients were seen, goats, donkeys, chickens and cows were herded by. We were joined by new found friends and kindred spirits, Dr. Mary Ellen Bluntzer and medical student, Chelsea Talmadge who helped out with the mass of humanity.
On the academic front, Albert and Ryan did a smashing job with their lectures on asthma and diarrhea. The talks were well received by the staff of St Elizabeth and several of the local roosters.
Cheryl has set up a fine new lab at Kisongo and the team had the pleasure of meeting the right honorable deputy minister of the department of lands and resources in Tanzania.
Dr. Ezekiel continues to amaze us all with his passion, competence and leadership.
The team met up with Dr. Solomon and the home based care ladies and enjoyed a morning together getting updates on the patients served by the project.
Finally, all of our amazing Tanzanian team members, Lesikar, Pascal, Livingstone, Jonathan, Mbisi, Jackson, Albert and Zachariah not only drive us through the challenges of Arusha traffic, but provide sensitive and compassionate translations for the team.
As we prepare for our next adventure at Endulen clinic in The Ngorongoro Highlands, I continue to marvel at the overwhelming generosity and compassion of all of these talented people.
Take the leap, the net will appear and fantastic things can happen.