May 29 2015: being posted a day late:
Today was Jennifer’s birthday and everyone sang for her in the morning before we got on the bus :)!
Today was our first day at Beit Cure Hospital – our primary community partner, primarily because Alfred Mwamba is the audiologist there and that is the reason this program began. Unfortunately, he is out of town, but we arrived there at 8:00am as planned.
My friend Violet was not there at reception and instead we met Lucy and then went to the ENT/Audiology building where we met Kelvin. Dr. Uta, the ENT surgeon arrived shortly after and she herself gave us a tour! Felt like we were getting VIP treatment, when since this is my fourth time here, I feel more like family!
The tour included physiotherapy, the children’s ward, the private ward where paying patients stay as well as the small area where there is a workshop to make mobility aids for children. Dr. Uta almost skipped this, but I requested we go there because it is so amazing to see the work being done there and how scraps and paper are made into mobility aids for children with clubfoot, cerebral palsy etc.!
After the tour the students went to their respective rotations and I stayed in Audiology with a couple of them. It was very interesting to speak to Gemma, the audiologist from the UK who has been volunteering here to help with the audiology training program. It was also great to meet the two students Yaka and Olipa and hear their stories. Both are nurses, but have taken an interest in adding audiology to their skill set. Yaka, missing her family in Gambia is here for the one-year program while Olipa is here from Ndola Hospital, also missing her grandchild! They seem to be doing the audiometric assessments pretty independently, and when we had a little quiet time, I explained a couple of audiograms that involved masking to Yaka and our students. Our students got to assist getting tympanograms on a couple of children, and it was eye-opening for them to see that most of the cases seen were all preventable conductive hearing losses that would have been treated easily in the US. Lauren and Connor who were in Audiology at the time used bubbles to distract a young child while getting tympanograms and it was delightful to see Olipa get so excited about that and how effective it was to get the child to co-operate! So, for the next child, Olipa got to help distract the child and enjoyed herself blowing bubbles 🙂 Other students were in physiotherapy, ENT and the ward.
After the last patient Olipa made tea for all of us and we chatted for a bit before we went to lunch. Gabby and Katie were in the kitchen and served the lunch.
After lunch we set up for the training presentation on the topic of typical language development, how it is affected by hearing loss, and strategies for parents and caregivers. The attendees were Yaka and Olipa as well as the other three students (Patson and Precious who of course I know from previous visits) and also another student from Cameroon. The training appeared to be a success as they made good comments at the end and we hope that it will be useful for them.
Right at the end of the training Chisomo came and we ended up chatting for a while and she decided to go to dinner with us.
Anyway, William was stuck in traffic and came almost 1 hour late! The students were standing together and singing / playing some games. We ended up not going to Sugarbush, but rather to a Thai restaurant and had our first dinner all together, including Chisomo. It was nice and there was some good conversation at the table. Jennifer had her birthday celebrated with ice cream with a sparkler on top of it which the wait staff brought out singing :).
The students reflected on the day with these thoughts:
- Beit Cure did not look or feel like a typical hospital – the ward had bright walls instead of sterile white and the playground had special swings for the children with disabilities
- The kitchen staff impressed everyone, especially the fact that everyone at the hospital from the patients to the staff and top administrators are served from the same pot
- They talked about cultural differences observed in the doctor-patient interaction, where the ENT nurse Charity appeared to be “scolding” a patient’s mother as she advised her to advocate for her
- Also, that the health care professionals do not introduce themselves to the patients
- They discussed the cases of ear disease they observed and how these were preventable
- They discussed how they take their education for granted while people like Yaka were so eager to learn because it is not as accessible to her
- They enjoyed the presentation and it was humbling to have the audience members so interested and thankful to us
And the top comment of the day:
- One student commented that people think we are going to Zambia to change things, but today the realization dawned that “doing this is changing me” and it was a profound realization