This trip to Mbingo is coming to an end, but here are some updates from the past couple weeks.
We welcomed the new class of CIMS residents earlier this month. From the left, Dr. Tchinda Gerald, Dr. Eyambe Lydia, Dr. Chia Blessing, and Dr. Eke Marie They are all Cameroonian and just graduated from medical school. We look forward to continue working with them during their 4 year residency at Mbingo.
Each year we have a White Coat Ceremony to introduce the new residents and to welcome them to the residency program. As the chair of the CIMS Advisory Board, Chuck took part in the ceremony. Dr. Dennis Palmer (CIMS Program Director) gave the opening remarks, Chuck led them in repeating the Christian Physician's Oath, and Dr. Rick Bardin (faculty internist/pathologist) gave them their new white coats with the official CIMS patch on the chest. In the picture, Chuck is giving them their copies of Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine which they will read all the way through 2 times during residency (with weekly quizzes as well).
This is Dr. Sam Webb, an internal medicine resident from Charlotte that came with Chuck this month. The picture shows him rounding on the men's ward with Dr. Ntusmi (2nd year CIMS resident). He is planning on doing a palliative care fellowship in the future and was able to work with our palliative care team here at Mbingo including going out on home visits for 2 separate days. This allows our palliative care team to see and help palliative patients (mostly cancer) that are not able to get to the hospital for follow up. The team appreciated having Sam join them and he was able to see how palliative care can function in our setting. It is incredibly valuable, but still rare in the developing world.
This is Dr. Ryan Humphries who is also an internal medicine resident from Charlotte. He also came with Chuck to work this month. The picture shows him rounding with Dr. Kinne, one of our upper level CIMS residents. He is considering a nephrology fellowship in the future and in addition to rounding on the wards, he has been able to take care of a few patients receiving acute peritoneal dialysis (PD) for acute renal failure. We have written about this PD program at Mbingo before, but it is very unique to be able to offer this at a hospital like Mbingo. Chuck has been involved with overseeing Ryan and Sam's work and teaching them alongside the Cameroonian residents. They have been seeing all sorts of diseases that are unusual in the US - malaria, TB, Kaposi sarcoma, advanced HIV, leptospirosis, schistosomiasis and many other challenging cases that are made more difficult in our resource-limited setting.
This is Angela with Kennedy. He is head of the vaccine program at Mbingo and does a great job in making sure the vaccination programs are running smoothly. Angela has worked over the years to expand vaccinations at Mbingo like giving monovalent hepatitis B vaccine to newborn babies of Hepatitis B positive mothers and recommending needed vaccines to sickle cell patients. This is in addition to the government expanding availability in Cameroon of what we consider to be normal vaccines for children. There are many elements to a successful vaccination program like maintaining a cold-chain to keep the vaccines active, maintaining sterile technique, and getting the vaccinations to villages/areas that are difficult to reach.
Mbingo has been hoping to get a CT scanner for some time. It is very complex to operate a CT scanner in our setting, but many of the hurdles have been overcome. The CT scanner has been purchased and cleared customs and arrived this week (in 5 huge wooden boxes). The new outpatient building has been built with a leaded CT scan room in the new radiology area. In order to get to this point, we had to have the funds to buy the machine, a place to put it, an in-country supplier/contractor that could guarantee service to keep it running, and a way to get the scans read. All of this has been done. The final step is power. The hospital already is running our transformer and generator at over 100% capacity (due to the rapid growth of the hospital) and it would be difficult to add the CT directly onto the electrical system as it consumes a massive amount of electricity. The hospital is working on a solution, but upgrading electrical systems can be quite expensive. We are hoping to get this resolved quickly. Currently, the closest CT scanner is about 8 hours away in Limbe. Sometimes we are able to send our sick patients (in a taxi with many other people) to get this done, but as you can imagine, many of our patients that need a CT scan are too sick to make this trip. The CT scanner will allow us to provide better care to our patients and will likely serve many other hospitals/clinics in this region of Cameroon.
This picture is from Mbingo 2 church which is about a 30 min walk from our house. Part of the service is in the local dialect (Kom) and there is plenty of African music - we love to visit there. You can play "Where are Angela and Ben?" in the photo. They are walking/dancing forward in the crowd to give an offering as part of a thanksgiving celebration for an elderly woman who regained her ability to walk.
Nora is enjoying the fresh air here at Mbingo.
Ben is really starting to enjoy hiking. He did his biggest hike yet - the "Front Waterfall" this past weekend. It is ~4.5 miles and 1000+ feet of climbing. The waterfall is in the background and the valley extends the other direction. Somehow we have hiked many times in the rainy season this trip and not gotten wet - a feat that will not be repeated!
This is Chuck and Isaac with Sam and Ryan at the top of a recent hike. It has been great to have them here with us and let them see how God is using Mbingo to improve the healthcare of Cameroonians.
All dressed up in our African clothes. We had these from a few years ago before Nora, so we will have to get an outfit for her next time! We are sad to be leaving our Mbingo family and we are already looking forward to being back again.