As many of you know, we have been at Mbingo now for a little over 2 weeks. It has been busy, but we have enjoyed being back. Here are some updates from our time so far...
The trip over was pretty smooth. Isaac and Ben love watching movies on the plane instead of sleeping - they get this from Angela.
This past week, Angela started teaching a 2 week course for the nurses in the maternity ward. The goal of the course is to teach the nurses to provide good care to the newborn babies. At the end of the course they are called "Baby Care Providers". They then are responsible for seeing the newborn babies and notifying a doctor if there is anything abnormal. There is never enough medical staff for the doctors to see all of the babies, so this allows the physicians to focus on those that have a possible abnormality or illness.
This is Victory. Some of you may remember her from an earlier blog post (click here to go to that post from 2013). She swallowed a caustic alkaline solution and had severe esophageal damage. Chuck started dilating her esophagus in 2013 to help relieve the stricture. She has continued to get dilations at Mbingo over the past 2.5 years (every 4-8 weeks) and is almost to the point of not needing them anymore. This time Chuck injected some steroids (Kenalog) into the stricture through the scope to hopefully decrease how much the esophagus strictures in the future. She is a very sweet little girl and her mother has diligently brought her to every needed appointment over the past few years. It is great when we can have this kind of follow up with patients when we are back at Mbingo.
Two internal medicine residents from Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte came with Chuck this trip. Julie Harris and Priscilla Givens are both 3rd year residents in the residency program where Chuck is an attending. Julie and Priscilla have been rounding on the wards and the ICU, doing procedures, and have been able to do a few outreaches as well. They went with Gilda (one of the palliative care nurses) to do home visits in some nearby villages for patients with cancer. This involved doing exams, delivering morphine for pain control, and offering support in any way needed. This is a unique program that Mbingo offers and it was great that they were able to take part in it. Julie and Priscilla also went to New Hope Village on another outreach. The picture shows them with the team that goes on Wednesdays to the leprosy village just a few miles from the hospital. The village is made up of patients that have been cured of leprosy, but for a variety of reasons needed a new home. The hospital created New Hope Village to meet this need many years ago. Now leprosy is often cured before severe disfigurement and patients are typically accepted back into their villages. New Hope Village has provided a home and support for many leprosy patients through the years.
If you were looking for one of the ways that Mbingo has changed dramatically since we first came in 2012, the lab would have to be at the top of the list. When we first arrived, there was a basic hematology machine and a simple chemistry machine. The chemistry machine could do one test on one sample at a time. Now there is a room full of high tech lab equipment with a full assortment of staff. In a very early post (click here) from 2012, we told you about how we used some donated money to buy a chemistry machine for the hospital. That machine is still in use (far left of this picture), but is now small compared to the new machines the hospital is using. The mixture of dropping prices for these machines and increased availability have allowed us to provide improved lab services to our patients and thereby improving their care. We still have frustrations like running out of reagents for the lab tests, ants crawling into a machine and obstructing the reagents (true story), or labs not drawn on time and results delayed, but we are thankful for the incredible progress that has been made.
The CIMS (Christian Internal Medicine Specialization) residency program at Mbingo has a weekly Bible study. This used to be led by a hospital chaplain or one of the missionaries. Over the past year or so, we have turned the leading of the Bible study over to the residents. Each resident leads about once every 2 months and they have been doing a good job. It usually starts with singing a couple songs and then a time for the resident to share something from the Bible with some discussion and prayer. This past week was especially good as Samuel Kafoe led a Bible study on suffering. Samuel is a doctor from Sierra Leone and is training with us for 4 years before going back to Sierra Leone to work in his home country. He worked in Sierra Leone in the midst of the Ebola epidemic and has seen suffering far beyond what any of us have experienced. Despite this, his faith in God remains strong.
This is Julius. He is the head chaplain at the hospital and Chuck has gotten to know him pretty well over the past couple years. The chaplains provide spiritual support to our patients here by sharing the Bible with patients in their local language (pidgin English, French, or local dialects) as well as praying for patients and their families. Julius is also in charge of the "Needy Patient Fund". This is supported by donations and provides for those patients that truly have nothing. Julius is able to give them money for food and clothing or even money to pay for transportation to get home. He represents the front lines at Mbingo of providing for the least of these... (Matthew 25:40).
Angela is now 31 weeks pregnant and feeling well. All of our Cameroonian friends at the hospital have been happy about us having another child. They think of Isaac and Ben as Cameroonian children and say this child will be too.
This picture is from the top of "Half Dome" - about 7 miles round trip and one of our favorite hikes. Isaac continues to be a strong hiker and Ben hitched a ride in the pack on Chuck's back to the top. Angela did about half the hike before the pregnancy finally slowed her down.
Isaac and Ben have been playing with Charlie Shinar almost every day since we arrived. Charlie's parents are Josh and Lori Shinar. They are missionaries to a more remote area of Cameroon, but have been at Mbingo for the past few weeks as Josh has been helping work on our internet/network. Lori has also been watching the boys in the mornings so both of us can work at the hospital. They left today and we will all miss the Shinars.
Thanks for your prayers for our time here at Mbingo and for following along with us.