Final Preparations

"I'm walking across the hospital's grounds with three mattresses on my head. This is my second trip."

I'm walking across the hospital's grounds with three mattresses on my head. This is my second trip.

Some people stare at the unusual sight of a white person walking with things on their head. Everyone else carries everything that way, so I figure I should try it.  Some people laugh, some offer to help.

We're setting up the third building of the malaria ward for our full opening on July 1st.  It's July 1st, around 5pm. The logistics department has been scrambling to get everything ready, with all of the projects that we're taking on, but with the last-minute delivery of 12 mattresses from the nearest big city (4 hours' drive to the northeast), we're finally ready to go.

We just have to put the mattress casings on these new mattresses, change out one broken bed frame, string up rope for the mosquito nets, find the key for the padlock on the back door, and fix two lightbulbs.

I tie the final knot on the rope for the mosquito nets, and I reassure the nurse supervisor that we'll be back in the morning to fix the lights. As I head out the door, saying I'll send the key as soon as I get back to the office, I pass a mother with her sick child in her arms. She's headed into the ward we just opened. Already.

All of our beds are full in the intensive care section, and we only have one or two beds open in the post-intensive ward. The medics tell me we admit about 25 patients a day this week, and we have 25 intensive-care beds.

On my way out of the hospital, as I rush to a meeting about transport policy for our external activities supporting the rural health centers, I check that the tent we set up last week has had its electricity and lighting installed. This will house our nutritional supplement preparation area, for the malnourished children in our ward. Everything's installed.  I make a note to send over a power strip and some fans tomorrow.

I have a feeling that there will also be beds with patients in there within the next week.