A quick flight to Auckland then the not so quick flights to Hong Kong, Bangkok, Addis Ababa and finally Lomé left me all ready for the eleven and a half hour bus ride up to Mango. I was mentally prepared for it to take up to 18 hours so the shortened time and the air conditioning came as a pleasant surprise.
Day 2. A quick tour of the hospital to see where I will be working for the next two years. The most exciting part for me was to finally see the Pharmacy that I had designed while on a 36 hour whirlwind trip to Mango one and a half years ago. I am impressed how much it looks like the diagram I drew and could not wait for the shelves to be full of medicine. The rest of the Hospital looks pretty amazing too! We have a 40 bed hospital with separate Men’s and Women’s wards, a Maternity ward, NICU, Operating Rooms, Radiology, Laboratory, Sterilising Unit and a Clinic which sees about 100 patients a day.
Next was a quick tour of Mango to see the local market where I will be buying my rice, tomatoes and cucumbers. I have since learnt that it is worth paying extra for the bagged rice in one of the boutiques as this means you don't need to pick out the rocks yourself and saves on potential dentist bills. Also you can not always buy Mangos in Mango!
Day 28. I had just got back from prayer meeting and was excitedly going through a box of donated kitchen supplies - it is amazing what becomes exciting when there is no Briscoes down the road! - when I received a Pharmacy call out. A little surprising as the Hospital was not open for another 18 days… I quickly pull my long skirt on over my shorts and borrowed a flash light to put in the basket of my bicycle so I can see as I cycle back to the Hospital. I entered the Pharmacy, picked up my jandal to squash a spider (I never know which spiders are dangerous so my current theory is to kill them all!), retrieved the meds then cycled off through the night to deliver Morphine to the poor nurse with kidney stones.
While dropping off the meds I had a conversation with the Chief Medical Officer about how the machine that gets water ready for making the IV solutions (we make them from “scratch” around here) needs a part that is coming from the USA. He asks me to order some IV fluids from Lomé. I cycle back off into the night with my IV fluids order scrawled across a scrap of cardboard, knowing that this is exactly where I am supposed to be and that tomorrow will bring more exciting adventures and challenges.
Day 30. Elizabeth, a Paediatrician from Texas, and I moved into our brand new cottage. It wasn't until four weeks later that I got my bed and I still haven’t unpacked my suitcase yet but it is starting to feel like home.
Day 42. The Grand Opening! I was woken up at 6:30am by Hotel California blaring out of the sound system over the other side of the hospital compound. Four hours later, with the same song on repeat, I was well and truly ready for the President of Togo to arrive in the hope that this may cause the sound man to choose a new song! There was a lot of excitement and all the Hospital workers were dressed in the blue Hospital of Hope fabric, while many of the people from Mango were dressed in a green version in celebration of the day. It was fun to see some of the local dances preformed for the opening ceremony and while the speeches seemed long (it is always difficult to concentrate in a different language) I was rewarded for my attention by hearing 'Nouvelle Zealande' mentioned once.
Once the excitement of the cutting of the ribbon and the feast of roast beef and rice was over it was time to head back to work for the afternoon before collapsing into bed at 6pm and sleeping solidly until the next morning. Apparently opening a hospital is exhausting work!
You can watch clips from our opening day by clicking here.
Day 46. Monday March 2 saw our first patients arriving at the Hospital gates long before I woke up. By the time I got to work at 7am there was a well-controlled line of patients stretching out of the Hospital entry and down the dirt road that leads back towards Mango. We had a tent set up just inside the Hospital walls where the Doctors, Nurse Practioner, Midwives and Surgeons were screening people to decide if they were going to be our first patients or if they were not urgent and could come back later in the week. It was a slow start in the morning for the Pharmacy as it took a while for the patients to get through the system but we made up for it in the afternoon and we ended up having crowds of people waiting at the Pharmacy until 8pm.
Thank you for your continued support and prayers during this start-up phase.