Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Week 1 in Namibia: 24 Surgeries Complete

Children's ward at Katutura Intermediate Hospital, Namibia
Our first week in the hospital was definitely busy. In addition to the actual surgeries, the team visited patients in the wards, and continued screening more people to add to the following week's schedule. 

The surgical cases range in complexity from soft-tissue release procedures to ankle reconstructions. Likewise, the origin of their deformities varies. Many of our patients have clubfoot deformities while others have been in car accidents or have physical challenges related to cerebral palsy.

One of our patients, a nine-year-old boy with complications related to polio, is especially remarkable. And not because of his physical challenge. During the first day of screening, he sat patiently while people tended to those around him. I'd noticed him alone and expected a parent to return to his side so I could gather the intake information. After awhile, it was clear that he was alone.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Tuesday in Namibia: Surgeries at Katatura & Lectures at UNAM

I'm sitting here in Namibia working on patient files while watching the Olympics from Brazil on South African television. I'm feeling rather global at the moment -- and maybe a bit tired from a busy day.

Today was our first day of surgeries at Katatura Intermediate Hospital. We treated seven patients ranging in age from 6 to 47 years old with a range of procedures.

The hospital medical staff has been instrumental in keeping everything running smoothly throughout the day. I can imagine it's a challenge to quickly figure out how to work with new people, especially six new surgeons from two countries. Even with English as the primary language, there are communication challenges along the way with a variety of accents in the room. Protocols, terminology, and workstyles are always different -- which is a big part of what makes it interesting for the surgeons to learn from one another and share their skills across an operating table.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Monday in Namibia: Meetings and Patient Screenings

We started work in earnest today, starting with some of the doctors going to the medical school for a tour and to watch students do presentations.

Several of us then went to the Ministry of Health, where we met with Minister of Health and Social Services the Honorable Dr. Bernhard Haufiku and Permanent Secretary of Health Dr. Andreas Mwoombola. We had the opportunity to learn more about the medical system throughout the country and the Minister's plans for the future. There's a lot going on toward improving medical care overall, including setting up an orthopedic center of excellence. This, of course, is of great interest to our team and we're happy to have the opportunity to play even a small part of these efforts.

Members of the IEP team with Dr. Mwoombola and
Honorable Minister Dr. Haufiku.

The Ministry of Health is working to renovate hospitals and build state-of-the-art operating rooms to treat patients and train doctors.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Welcome to Namibia

Windhoek, Namibia
A quick note to start things off!
The sun is bright, the temperatures mild, and there is a group of people playing drums in a nearby building. Somehow that just makes this more real.

After a couple of long travel days, the team is all situated in Windhoek. The medical team consists of two orthopedic surgeons from Israel, four podiatrists from California, our head nurse, our nursing student, and me.*

The activities start tonight with a reception hosted by our gracious hosts from United Africa Group. Their work has been a significant part of making this mission happen, so we're glad to connect with them this evening.

* My job here is an interesting mix, for the paperwork to the operating room.