Thursday, July 01, 2010

Return to Freetown...

After being away from Sierra Leone for a year, it is good to be back.

Previously I spent four and a half years in Sierra Leone working for an NGO, running an outpatient pediatric clinic. Now, I am working in the government-run Children’s Hospital, volunteering as medical coordinator for a UK-based charity called the Welbodi Partnership. The contrast in jobs is great but I am excited about this new role.

I am keen on finding my way within the government system to contribute to bringing about positive change at the Children’s Hospital. I am looking forward to working alongside the national doctors to assist them where needed and to help bring them a step closer to their pediatric training through the Post-graduate Training program Welbodi has initiated. Part of this project will include the development of the x-ray department and laboratory in order to work towards accreditation of the hospital as a Teaching Hospital. Big tasks I know, but not impossible.

I am excited too about teaching the nurses and encourage them to carry out their nursing responsibilities well. I want the nursing staff to realize how important their jobs is and how we must all work together as a team in order to care for the patients well.

And of course, I hope to be able to help the children of Sierra Leone. I would love to be more involved clinically as time allows but of course, there are many other aspects of patient care that I can address/influence such as: the use of fluid balance charts, proper use of medication charts, providing the hospital with more oxygen concentrators, introducing protocols to ensure standardized management and good use of resources, etc.

The challenges will be great, but overcoming them will be even greater. Likely, I will make mistakes along the way, but as long as I learn from them it will be okay. I am here for a year (at least) and I hope that when I look back at my time here I can be pleased that Ola During Children’s Hospital has become a better place. Thankfully I am not on this journey alone and together with some key people in hospital management, the Welbodi team (on the ground and in the UK/USA), Professor Tamra, the medical officers, dedicated nursing staff and key people in the Ministry we can do this. We may take a few steps forward and then one step back, but we will continue to move forward. And one day, Ola During Children’s Hospital will be a center of excellence in pediatric care.

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