Fieldset
Newsletter from Aden

It has been one month of settling down and getting used to the way things work around here and finally feeling comfortable in my shoes as the head of the hospital. There have been changes; one of those changes is that I am no longer the Hospital Manager but the Medical Director.

It has been one month of settling down and getting used to the way things work around here and finally feeling comfortable in my shoes as the head of the hospital. There have been changes; one of those changes is that I am no longer the Hospital Manager but the Medical Director. Don’t let the title fool you, I have fewer responsibilities now that I am Medical Director. I no longer have to supervise the pharmacy which I am grateful for as inventories and following drug consumptions has never been one of my favorite tasks. I still have the same office space and the same duties overall.

One of the lessons I have learned, and quickly too, is how to mediate in conflict especially between staff. It amazes me how very angry adults can get when things are not going their way and how just sitting down and talking to both parties can yield fruit sometimes. One important lesson I learned in my first week here is that there are more than two sides to a story: One side for the offended party, one side for the offender and then a third or fourth side when both parties are brought together to relate what they had said to me separately. :)

I was taught this trick of the trade by our Project Coordinator who has over eight MSF missions under his belt. I am learning to listen carefully to each side of the tale, not jump to quick conclusions or make any hasty decisions in wrath especially if I have not listened to the other party and then bring them in for a mini-conference. Sad to say wherever human beings are ego, pride, self and some desire for revenge are also present! So far a good chunk of my time is spent mediating and passing judgment. I think I should have become a lawyer/judge after all. I definitely deserve some diploma in conflict resolution after my term here.

I have managed to lose quite quickly all the weight I gained in the last six months save 1kg. This is due to a combination of having to walk around the hospital a lot and actively working out. I mentioned in my last email that we have a gym and I think I use the gym more than anyone else :). I manage to visit the gym at least thrice a week and run for 30mins on the treadmill and also skip a bit too. I am eating everything placed before me except milk and cheese based foods (which our cook makes a lot of, she is a fantastic cook. We have had a lot of visitors so chocolate has been plentiful :) and I certainly eat my fair share.

One of the things I am trying to do is to learn the names of all the workers in the hospital. It is a task I hope to master but it is not without its share of trouble. Where you have four people called Hani, five Mohammed’s and six Waleed’s, it can be difficult to keep track of who is who. I have a system where I ask people to tell me their names and stop me throughout the day when they see me to ask me to tell them who they are.

This is difficult especially since most of them work on a shift basis and then they disappear for a few days and when they come back the cycle starts all over! But I am determined to do this. Today I actually remembered all the names of the staff on duty except one and the smiles of the remembered and the disappointed look on the forgotten make me want to master this.

Life in the hospital is monotonous, the first few weeks were quiet but the last few days have been busy. Our infection rates have gone down, we are having shorter hospital stays and are doing very well hygiene wise. We have had some really interesting cases and there have been a few cases that seemed that they might not do well but they have exceeded our expectations and we have happy faces all around. We live and sleep in the hospital so it’s difficult to get away from work and we create activities to help us escape.

MSF Olympics © Tomi Lamikanra

MSF Olympics © Tomi Lamikanra

In the spirit of the Sochi games, we are having Aden Olympics. I will be participating in two games - Darts and Table Tennis. I hope to win at least one medal :) I’ll let you know how my Olympic dream goes. The weekend starts on Thursday so we don’t have any cooks come in on Friday. Last week I cooked for the team and it was really well accepted though I was not too pleased with one of the traditional Nigerian dishes I cooked but since no one had eaten the original ‘Moi-Moi’ they could not compare it with the real deal. I used a kind of beans I had never seen before not the kind we have at home (that is my story).

The heat is coming, it is getting hotter everyday and the irony is that the public electric supply is not constant during the hot season so we need to rely on our generators which unfortunately cannot cope with the load from all the generators. So we are going to have a rationing of our air conditioning load. The only worry for me is that the way I have to dress is going to take some getting used to especially at the height of the heat.

Tomi wrote this post in February 2014