First Experience At The Lewanika Hospital (March 21-23)
Post by: Montana Zaporzan
Last week I spent 3 days on the postnatal (postpartum) unit at Lewanika Hospital. This experience was far from comparable to the postpartum units I have had experience in during my years in school. We would start every morning dusting the bugs off the walls which would often fall on patients beds, the beds were made with two blankets... One very fuzzy flannel blanket and a very old stained linen used as a sheet. The pillows were made of a plastic material without pillow cases, but easy to clean. The postnatal unit did not even have curtains between a bed, which made it very awkward and almost impossible to do a proper assessment on the mother without everyone seeing what you were doing. Luckily with our fundraising money this year we were able to hang curtains on the whole ward which included 18 beds, so the week I spent was the last week with no curtains!!! One experience that stood out to me included a newborn who was having seizures. With lack of equipment the doctor had to figure out the cause of these seizures a process that in Canada with endless diagnostic equipment, probably would've looked a lot differently. The Doctor first needed to place an IV in the child's hand, which took 3 attempts and was probably the longest 8 mins of my life! Finally he got it in and he was able to push saline with added dextrose, to rule out if the seizure activity was because of hypoglycemia (which would of been diagnosed in Canada with a test that takes 2 seconds) after giving two boluses of the solution the child was still seizuring which is when a anti seizure medication was given next. The seizure came to a stop and the child was very lethargic.
This experience put a lot of things into perspective for myself, it was heartbreaking to me while the doctor was struggling to start an IV all I could do was watch and if the child's colour changed give assisted breaths, or start cpr. No neonatal intensive care team, no respiratory therapist, no glucose reading equipment, not even a proper crash cart or resuscitation equipment. However the staff handled the emergency the best they could with what they had.
Moreover, there must of been at least 20 moms with healthy babies discharged in those 3 days, it was very busy and amazing to see the resiliency of the mothers after child birth, some walking miles to get home just 6 hours after giving birth, which was the minimum requirement from the doctor. With that week behind me I will take with me the experiences I had and learn and grow from them as I continue my time in Zambia. Verdict is: I still cannot speak "silozi" and the midwives and nursing students would not let me forget that as I struggle to pronounce their names.