Sunday, May 11, 2008

OPC up & running for 3 years now...

It was three years ago today that the Mercy Ships outpatient clinic for children opened in Aberdeen, Sierra Leone. After much planning, organizing, hiring of staff, sorting through containers, praying, discussing with the local authorities etc. we were ready to go. Mind you, we didn’t have everything we needed. We only had adult formulations of drugs, since we were not specifically planning on doing pediatrics initially and only a part time lab technician. And of course, I didn’t have any experience in setting up and running a clinic. But all would be okay with time... I hoped. Here is an excerpt from a blog entry I wrote on May 23rd 2005.

"The out patient clinic opened on Tuesday, May 10th. On the first day I saw 3 patients- a slow start I know, but at least it gave us the chance to make sure that the clinic, lab, pharmacy etc. were functioning as they should. On Thursday the numbers increased, and I saw 16 children and 2 of our employees. Today [Monday May 23] I saw 27 patients- actually it was a bit too busy. But at least we know there is a need for the clinic! It’s good to have started the clinic. However, I realize even more how challenging it is. And at times I feel very inadequate for the job. Especially being the only one to see the children and make the diagnosis etc makes it difficult. It would be a lot easier if there was someone else to bounce ideas off of!"

So here I am 3 years later. Still in Sierra Leone. Still running the Mercy Ships pediatric clinic. Still knowing there is an obvious need for the clinic since unfortunately Sierra Leone still has the highest child mortality in the world. I still love the work. Love helping the children. And am thankful for the experience. I feel much more confident in the work. But the challenges remain; trying to refer very sick children, dealing with the inadequacies in the healthcare 'system' here, children coming too late, ignorance of parents, having to turn patients away, etc. 3 out of 5 of my local staff have been with me since the start. All 5 of them are great! They have helped turn this clinic into what it is today. It's been great to work with such an excellent team.

Interesting how 3 years ago I thought 27 patients was a lot when for the past 1-2 years I have had between 50-65 on average per day. Seeing up to 69 on my own on one day. And still having to do the management side of things too- running the lab, worrying about supplies, human resource management, etc. Fortunately I now have a 2nd doctor to help with the clinical side of things. Even with 2 of us, seeing 55-65 kids can be a full days work but it's so much less stressful and so much more enjoyable!

1 comment:

Luzanne said...

Wow, 3 years - Congrads to all the staff there.

You're doing a great job, missing you all!

~ Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. micah 6:8 ~