Paul and Tania Baker are CMS Ireland Mission Partners based in Kiwoko Hospital, in Luwero Diocese in Uganda. Paul works as the Site Engineer for the hospital and Tania assists with the Women's Resource Centre and hospitality ministry in Kiwoko.
When a plan comes together...
Posted by Paul and Tania Baker on Sun, 17 Jul 2011 | 5 comments | Bookmark:
On 8th May, news of an Ebola case reached Kiwoko Hospital. A 12 year old girl in a nearby village died of the virus. Ebola is a highly contagious and usually fatal virus with no cure. Understandably, there was widespread panic in the local community.
Dr. Rory (Medical Superintendent) announced that we would set up an Isolation Ward in preparation for the likely outbreak. The TB Ward, a building on the compound outskirts, would become the Ebola Ward. We were given 48 hours to turn this very modestly equipped building into a fully functional Isolation Unit.
My job was to make sure the ward was kitted out. Electrical and plumbing alterations were required. We also needed to supply and install the vital Oxygen Concentrators, Suction machines, BP Machines etc. The only problem was; we had virtually no spare equipment. In fact, in the main wards there was already a shortage of much of this gear. We did however, have an abundance of broken equipment. So, our workshop became an A-Team set. Innocent (a fellow Engineer), who could be a stunt-double for B.A. Baracus, got stuck into the welding with the 80’s theme tune playing in the background. Improvisation was the order of the day.
48 hours later the ward was complete. It looked like something from an end-of-the-world movie. Plastic sheets hanging from the ceiling dividing each of the patient bays, decontamination tents outside and ‘NO ENTRY – ISOLATION AREA’ signs all around the secured perimeter.
These two (very long) days demonstrated what is possible here when the whole team pulls together. Everyone took part in making us ready for an outbreak; Doctors, Nurses, Grounds-men, Cleaners. Ten nurses were needed to staff the ward. Dr. Rory asked for volunteers as these nurses would be literally risking their lives in caring for these patients. Ten came forward. Our other Engineer, Tony, was on leave but when he heard help was needed he volunteered to work on the ward as a runner. Sister Margaret came back from sick leave to help co-ordinate the ward, even though she was still suffering from Pneumonia.
The Ugandan Minister of Health heard of the preparations at Kiwoko and so he paid us a visit, along with his usual military entourage. He commented publicly that our rural mission Hospital was miles ahead of even the government hospitals.
Thankfully the 42 day incubation period passed with no further confirmed cases of Ebola. The village where the young girl died had been successfully quarantined. Some would say we wasted our time setting up the Isolation Unit but now we are ready for a similar event in the future. During these days I witnessed what Kiwoko Hospital is capable of. I witnessed what team work, determination and love for others can achieve. Our workshop doesn’t have all the tools and spare parts we need, I’m working on that. In so many other ways we lack what is needed to deal with such an outbreak. But, what we do have are dedicated, tenacious and very creative staff. I’m proud to be a small part of this team.