Fieldset
Hitting the ground running

I recently came back from holiday. It was great coming “home” to Mweso. Work started immediately. On my ride from Goma to Mweso, I met up with Raghu (our other expat doc) heading to Goma for his break. On a high mountain pass, in the rain, we hovered over the handover document he had prepared.

I recently came back from holiday. It was great coming “home” to Mweso. Work started immediately. On my ride from Goma to Mweso, I met up with Raghu (our other expat doc) heading to Goma for his break. On a high mountain pass, in the rain, we hovered over the handover document he had prepared. This patient had gone home, this patient had passed away, please check these emails, this staff got accepted for a training course and needs a Visa asap. Lots happens in 2 weeks!

I headed to the hospital on Saturday morning for “difficult case rounds”. Then came an urgent call from our midwife Natalie. A pregnant woman had been found collapsed on the ground outside the pediatric building. No one knew who she was or if she was a patient or a visitor. I ran over, calling the hospital guards to bring the stretcher. She was lying there unconscious. Airway: check, Breathing: check, Circulation: check.

We rushed her to ICU where she started to wake up and where people recognized her as the epileptic woman from the Maternity ward. Fetal heart beat: check. She woke up, I increased her medications. All was good.

Then back to the office for administrative work. Running a 160-bed hospital that runs at 110% capacity, plus 2 health centres and a mobile clinic/health post, is difficult! A huge part of what MSF does here is logistical. Our logistics teams work tirelessly, often 12-14 hours a day to ensure that the project runs smoothly. We place orders only 3 times a year, massive international orders where we have to predict what the hospital and project will need over the coming months. This is very difficult to do, and the unexpected often happens. This can lead to increased or decreased use of medications for example. This can, of course, cause items to run out (‘rupture’) or expire.

So the rest of that first weekend back was spent in front of the computer with Ria, our expat hospital nurse supervisor, going item by item through our entire stock. What had run out? What was going to run out before our next supply delivery? What was going to expire and how do we use it/donate it? My head is spinning with excel spreadsheets!

Things have continued along the same lines since then. Emergency here, spreadsheet there. 10-12 hour days, working Sundays.

Now I’m off to organize a mass vaccination campaign. More on that later…