Good timing

I am sitting on the veranda of the MSF house looking at an amazing view of the Congo River. Everyone else is busy at work since six am so it’s nice and quiet here. Maybe R&R in Bangui isn’t so bad.

I am sitting on the veranda of the MSF house looking at an amazing view of the Congo River. Everyone else is busy at work since six am so it’s nice and quiet here. Maybe R&R in Bangui isn’t so bad. Yesterday when I was leaving the project of Bossangoa, where currently things have been calm it seemed a bit silly to go rest and relax in a place where things have been far less secure. Right at this moment, all I hear are the birds chirping and I think it is indeed just what the doctor ordered.

Though I think it was good timing to have a long weekend off after seven busy weeks in Bossangoa, it is hard to turn off all of the work thoughts in your mind. Sitting here in the peaceful sounds of the morning, all I can think about is emailing the project to see how the patients are doing that we brought back from mobile clinic on Wednesday…

Benzambé. One of our heavier clinic sites. Lots of kids, and a lot of them malnourished. This visit, we bring along all the big bosses. Marieke, our Medical Coordinator from the capital, Ronald, the Health Advisor from headquarters in Amsterdam and our project coordinator (PC) Luigi. I was really hoping everything would go smoothly while they were with us. This is the day you want the team to shine.

As we pull up to the clinic site after a couple of hours on the bumpy road, I see some people pushing a “pousse-pousse” with a woman in it towards us. I said to Marieke, “I think that is someone we’ll have to look at before we get started here.” Marieke looks at the woman, and finds a couple more that we need to see urgently. We take them inside the non-functioning health center where we work to take a look at them.

They all had gunshot wounds from Monday morning. We all immediately got to work; Ron, Marieke, our national staff nurse, Julie the other expat nurse and myself, doing vitals and assessments, starting intravenous lines where needed, giving drugs, IV fluids and plasma expanders and making a plan to get them back to the hospital in Bossangoa. Luigi gets communicating to set up a movement from Bossangoa to meet us so we can get the patients to the hospital for surgery, and still hold our mobile clinic for the other patients who have been waiting for us. Two of our outreach team members continue the triage in the lineup of patients under the mango tree, handing out priority tokens for those who need to be seen first.

Marieke goes on the transfer with the gunshot victims, a four year old girl shot in the shoulder, a fourteen year old girl shot in the head and a 22-year-old woman shot in the abdomen. Ron is put to work with the large lineup of malnourished children waiting to be seen, priority tokens in hand. When Marieke gets back, she goes straight back to work, doing consultations as things are a bit backed up. I do another round of triage to make sure we see all the priority cases before we have to close the registration for the day.

In the afternoon, we transfer one of the gunshot wounds that we didn’t transfer first thing in the morning, a 12-year-old boy with a through and through wound to his thigh. We also transferred his younger sister who was newly paralyzed from the waist down, unknown cause, and a woman with a huge facial abscess. Bossangoa hospital got plenty of business from the outreach team this day!

I really cannot think of better timing to have Marieke, Ronald and Luigi with us on outreach. The emergency cases were taken care of, movement approved and arranged and the patients on the road within thirty minutes. I am quite sure it would have been much more difficult, and much slower without all of the extra hands. I don’t think these patients could not have waited much longer than they already had. I was absolutely shocked that all of them survived two days, and travelling 20km to get to us from where they were attacked.

In the end I think everyone was extremely happy with the fantastic team work that happened and when I saw our patients through the night they were all doing well. I should be able to rest easy because of the good timing, and therefore good outcomes for our patients this week. Cheers to that!