Saturday, January 2, 2010

Medical Care

During our last trip in November we had the opportunity to visit the local hospital in Kandete.

This hospital serves a population of more than 45,000. It is staffed with 2 doctors and 6 nurses. The next closest facility is 40 miles away through the rough mountain terrain. According to our standards the facility would perhaps be called a clinic. The patient’s usual mode of arrival is on foot.

Because of the poverty, many patients will use chickens, eggs or vegetables as their payment for service. This of course does not help with bills the hospital incurs, such as electricity or staff salaries.

I have some medical background as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) for 20 years. And I have to tell you that our ambulance had more medical equipment and more drugs that this hospital has on hand.

Many moms would cringe at the birthing facilities. The surgical recovery area is a mat on the grass outside of the surgical room.

The slideshow above shows the cement bench waiting area, a birthing cot, the medicine distribution room, a refrigerated medicine container, and one of the 2 doctors that serves the hospital.

To illustrate the difficulties, let me share a story. We visited the home of a man whose wife had died. This man, for some unknown reason, had gradually lost the strength in his legs, leaving him unable to walk and only able to sit up with difficulty. He lies on the dirt floor next to the cooking fire in his home to stay warm. He has a 10 year old daughter that is caring for him, cooking meals, taking care of the livestock, tending the garden and trying to go to school. He lives about 15 miles from the hospital and there is no way to get him to the hospital…he cannot walk, he cannot sit on a bicycle, there is not money to hire a driver to come to his remote location. We knew our vehicle would be passing near him the next day and offered to cover the expense of his travel ($3) and admission to the hospital ($10).

When we received our vaccinations to come on this trip we were required to get a booster for polio. It is suspected that this man has polio.

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