I have been working at St Francis Hospital for over three months now.
When I first started here, everything was very different to what I was used to. I would walk through the wards glancing at the three children sharing a hospital bed in Paediatrics, or see the X-rays hanging up to dry on a washing line, and wonder what era I had stepped into. I was regularly shocked by the lack of seemingly essential resources. I could frequently be found asking in a shocked tone of voice “what do you mean we can’t measure sodium or potassium levels here?” or “what do you mean the hospital has run out of IV fluids?”
It is amazing how quickly I have adjusted to my new environment. I recently had my first visitors from home this month and as I took them on a tour of the hospital, I was reminded of what a fascinating place this is.
I thought it would be nice to take you on a virtual tour of the hospital through some of Will’s photographs…
The hospital is bright and airy, with open-air walkways and plenty of big open windows and light. I enjoy wandering around in the fresh air during my working day; it makes a welcome change from the dark and dreary corridors of NHS hospitals back home.
Below is a photo of the entrance to St Monica Ward, which is the female medical ward that I am in charge of. The number of doctors have dwindled in the past month. We have one doctor for the female medical ward (me) and one doctor for the male medical ward. This leaves us fairly busy, with up to 40 patients per ward, many of whom are extremely unwell. However, there is great camaraderie amongst the few doctors that are here, which makes it tolerable and enjoyable even when it is far too busy and when we feel way out of our depth.
Several times a week in the outpatient department waiting room, there are HIV/AIDS awareness sessions, delivering valuable health promotion advice as people wait to see a doctor. Patients can go for voluntary HIV testing 5 days a week at the Bishop Oliver clinic on the hospital grounds.
Mbusa, the Paediatric ward, can have upwards of 70 inpatients (with multiple children per bed). As the rainy season gets into full swing, so does Malaria, and the Paediatric ward fills up beyond capacity. Although I work on the female adult medical ward during the day, I also cover paediatrics (including the Special Care Baby Unit for unwell newborns and premature infants) when I am on-call.
The final photographs are of an area of the hospital that I seldom venture into, but is interesting nonetheless… the operating theatre.
St Francis Hospital is a challenging place to work, but there is something very endearing about it too, which I hope comes across in the photographs. Despite busy shifts, limited resources and often finding myself stretched beyond my level of experience, I am glad to be working here.