It is hard to believe that it has been 10 years since I opened the outpatient pediatric clinic in Aberdeen. At the time it was called the ACFC - Aberdeen Clinic and Fistula Centre - operated by Mercy Ships. It is now known as the Aberdeen Women's Centre and no longer run by MS. Although the pediatric clinic is currently closed due to Ebola, I am confident they will reopen in the next few months.
I remember the two months leading up to the opening of the clinic - it was a bit of a bumpy ride trying to get the community to agree to the scope of services that would be provided. I was keen to open a pediatric clinic since the child mortality rate in Sierra Leone was the highest in the world and there was no pediatric care nearby. Fortunately the stakeholders agreed that this was a good idea.
Day 1 of the clinic went well and I soon went from seeing 3 patients, to 18 patients, to 27 patients, to 50 patients, to anywhere between 60 and 80 patients per day. There were many mornings that I had to turn patients away at the gate which was very difficult. There were some occasions in which children died in the clinic because they came in such a bad state and there was so little we could do for them. Those were difficult moments in which we were faced with the reality of the high child mortality rate in the country. Fortunately there were many children, thousands, that my team and I could help and for that I am grateful. It's fun reading through some of my blog posts from 2005-2009 to see some of the adventures I had working in Aberdeen. There were good times and bad times but overall it was such a great experience. It was a really busy time, running the clinic, seeing patients everyday, overseeing the lab and dispensary, ensuring supplies were available, etc. It was worth it though. It was a very rewarding time. A few of my nurses still work there and it is great to be in touch with them. Sometimes I run into some of 'my former patients' or their parents in town or at the Children's Hospital and it is always a blessing to know that I was able to make a difference in their lives.