Tuesday saw our first day of work at Mazimbu begin with the usual fumbles and mis-steps as we relearned and updated our procedures. After several hours, the team was again firing on all four cylinders and ended the day with 35 patients on our registry. Before any surgical cases can be identified, we must first do clinic so that the doctors can evaluate our patient’s issues and take the appropriate treatment, which may mean only a simple RX, but could mean a surgery.
Dr. John’s specialty of ENT is somewhat more specialized than other practice areas so it is likely that only a dozen or fewer surgeries will fall under his area of expertise. He is still seeing all clinic cases, though, and will take “lumps and bumps” off of anywhere! Dr. Kivuma, a surgeon with Mazimbu, is again working as one of our team doctors. So Dr. Kivuma and Dr. John worked our clinic together and identified five patients who were then scheduled for a procedure for the following day, Wednesday—three for Dr. Kivuma and two for Dr. John.
Both surgeries that Dr. John scheduled require a thin, fine suture. The only sutures at Mazimbu that fit the bill expired in 2016. This makes them totally unusable, under government regulations. So the hunt was on for the appropriate sutures. A call to St. Harry’s, where the Tanzanian ENT practices, yielded some hope. Although they did not have any on hand that would work, they assured us that they would order them from Dar es Salaam and have them for us first thing the following morning. What a great solution!
It is sometimes a challenge to diplomatically manage the great numbers of people that come to the hospital hoping for services from the Mzungu doctors. Bear in mind yesterday was our first day, so word-of-mouth about our presence has only just begun. Although 35 patients were registered, another 50 patients were told that we were full for the day and to return the next day, Wednesday. Our senior translators, Epsilon and Tisho, were invaluable in skillfully communicating this to people who had likely been waiting all day, hoping for their chance with our doctors.
Today, Wednesday, most of those 50 were waiting for us when we arrived shortly after 8 am. And another 50 or so in addition. Again, our senior translators had the unpleasant task of telling the crowd that we had a waiting list and would not be able to add any additional names, but they could come again the next day.
Because of the issue with the sutures, Dr. Kivuma began his surgeries to give us more time to receive the delivery from Dar. Unfortunately, this delivery did not pan out, despite repeated calls to St. Harry’s. So both of Dr. John’s procedures were delayed for a future date. We have worked on the problem and think we may have a solution: Before Emily’s first daughter was born, she worked as an RN on the surgical floor at Aga Khan in Dar es Salaam so still has contacts in the medical world in Dar. She has reached out and once we find where we can buy the sutures in Dar, it will be possible to have them sent up on the bus in just one day. So we are hopeful that both procedures will be possible early next week. Stay tuned for more updates!