Sunday, July 3, 2011

"It'll be good for your blog."

     From time to time, when crazy things happen here, we'll say "well, at least it will be good for your blog." Sometimes I'm inundated with things I could post here on my blog, I'm just that "blessed" here.  God has given me ample opportunity to express perseverance, sometimes so much that I'd like to say "that's enough for now!"
     Today was one of those "it'll be good for your blog" days. First off, it's sunday, and I'm on call. This means I need to round on the patients. I have several options:
a) ride my bike down early and try to see the patients before church (and I rarely finish before church is over)
b) Come to church and round afterwards, but this entails either 1)going home and returning in the truck so I have a way home, 2)riding my bike there and back, or 3)rounding on as many patients as possible before everyone leaves to come home, and returning after lunch to finish seeing everyone else.
     I had decided last night to take route b3 of the above choices. I enjoyed being able to sit in the church service and worship, and attempted to translate the French version of the sermon into English for a visiting nursing student. After the sermon, I left to go start rounding. As I arrived, the charge nurse informed me that there was a "coup de courant" that just happened 10 minutes before. This posed a problem because there was a patient who just arrived with an oxygen saturation of 75% (normal 94-100%), and needed oxygen. The good news was
a) he has significant clubbing which means he has been hypoxic (likely in the 80% range) for quite a while (as in months/years)
b) we had had two other patients on oxygen who now did not need it.
c) we discovered that not all the hospital was without power, just the "ER" and all the wards except Maternity, the chapel, and the Blue House.
The bad news was we only have 4 people who know how to run the generator: Molimo (who was in Dongou-far to the north); Jean-Claude (who was in Epena, far to the south), Stephen (who is in Brazzaville, 900km away), and Joe (who is camping with his family and out of range of the network.)
     So, since church was over, we brought the patient and the oxygen concentrator over to the chapel to put him on oxygen while we problem solved. One of the 'mechanical engineers' who works at the hospital had led part of the service today. I asked if we had any extension cords that we could use to bring the power from the chapel to the "ER", because we couldn't leave the patient in the chapel all day and night, and in seeing a few other patients I had discovered another woman who needed oxygen. He said we did have an extension cord, but he would need to get into the workshop to be able to get it out.        
     Simple, right? Wrong. The keys to the workshop are in the administration office. Normally, I have a set of keys to this office, but it happened to be one set of keys I accidentally left at home. The hospital administrator also has a set of keys, so I walked over to her home to get them from her (which is on the other side of the hospital grounds) only to discover she wasn't at home, but was in fact still at church (near from where I had just come). I asked her for the keys, which she had to return home to get. Finally we had the keys to the workshop, and the 'mechanical engineer' brought back some wire and set to work. I'm pretty sure we have a plain extension cord, but I don't know the word in French, and what he had would get the job done, so I didn't complain. Soon enough he had wires coming from an outlet in the chapel, passing overhead to the 'ER' to provide current. We moved the patient back to the 'ER' and closed the chapel. I believe all of this took about an hour and a half, but it seemed like an eternity. It made it difficult to round as I had to find keys to things, problem shoot, and try to see patients all at the same time.
     I should add that in walking around trying to determine the status of the current in each ward, there was a patient who was upset that he was here all weekend and the nurse wouldn't let him leave because he hadn't cleared his bill. He states he had paid everything on friday, but unfortunately he had no receipt to prove it, and for some reason did not go to discuss it yesterday morning when the cashier was open. He wanted me to do something about it because he wanted to leave. What am I to do about it? I have no keys to the cashier's office, and it is his responsibility to get a receipt. I'm sorry sir, but you'll have to stay until tomorrow when the cashier's office opens up and discuss your case with them. There's nothing I can do. And besides, I'm in the middle of working on a bigger problem that I need to focus on.
     We suspect that there was a lightening strike last night during the thunderstorm that affected one of the sets of solar panels. The wards and buildings without power are on a separate panel system than the buildings with power. So the power issue will have to wait until it can be addressed by Joe, but in the meantime, we have power where we need it: in the "ER" for the oxygen concentrator, and in maternity for the incubator for the preemie. Thank you Lord, for providing for our needs!!!  


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