Window on Kisiizi

Window on Kisiizi

Monday, 27 April 2015

In all weathers...

dust trail from a passing vehicle
A month or so ago and the problem was dust in the dry season, any vehicle driving along on the murram (gravel) roads leaving a long cloud in the wake… not so pleasant for any pedestrians…  It also meant our river water levels were lower and so we had some power cuts in the evenings at peak demand time.  

But on a positive note the sun reveals some breathtakingly beautiful colours in the world around such as these flowers…
Now we are into the wet season.  We are about 5,500 feet above sea-level here in the Kigezi highlands so not surprisingly we are sometimes in cloud and can have quite violent thunderstorms as happened last week… unfortunately a lightning bolt must have connected to our high-tension wires and resulted in the burning out of a control circuit board.  As a result our main 300kW hydro-electricity generator was out of action for a couple of days but the hospital ran without problem on our back-up 60kW hydro-electricity turbine.  We are grateful to the Kisiizi Hospital Power Limited staff and  supporters who worked to get everything back to normal.

 The photo below was taken in the late evening when it was pitch black - yes, its a flash photo, but in this case the flash did not come from the camera but from lightning...

 But most of the time we are blessed with beautiful weather patterns, changing lighting and skies...

Saturday, 21 February 2015

WHO programme developments

Kisiizi has a number of links with the World Health Organization and recently WHO published a report on Universal Health Coverage and Patient Safety & Quality.  Only five institutions from around the world had been invited to form a "Learning Laboratory" and Kisiizi is one of them.  This led to this initial report which should be the foundation of some important developments.

We also enjoyed a visit from the WHO Country Representative, Dr.Wondimagegnehu Alemu who toured the hospital and was interested to discuss updates on our Africa Partnerships for Patient Safety (APPS) programme and our progress with the Surgical Unit-based Safety Programme (SUSP).  We also reviewed the Universal Health Coverage work and various plans for the future.  Dr. Wondimagegnehu was accompanied by the District Health Officer from Kabale who is keen for Kisiizi to support further development of Patient Safety in the region.

Click here to see Kisiizi Hospital Website page on WHO Links for more information

Click here to see Kisiizi Hospital Website list of publications including the report mentioned above

Dr. Wondimagegnehu visiting the Special Care Baby Unit

Focus on Africa

This is the title of a regular BBC World Service programme and a suitable theme as we welcome pupils and staff from a primary school in Holloway, north London, who are having a special focus on Africa in the next few weeks. 

We do hope you enjoy this blog and it helps you as you discuss the differences for children growing up in a busy city in England with the very poor rural community around Kisiizi...

Saturday, 14 February 2015

All change...

It doesn't take too much in Kisiizi to be an excuse for a party or at least a cake to share... but recently we have had a lot of comings and goings...


We were sorry to say goodbye to Dr. Lynne Speirs, a paediatric registrar who worked with us for a number of months as part of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Global Links scheme.  This link has now been in place for a couple of years and has proved very valuable for Kisiizi and has given these doctors valuable and varied experience.
Ian, Lynne & Dr. Paul, our intern
 Other interns have completed their rotations including Dr. Treasure who was in the first group able to do the full year as Dr. Dwight McLeod joined us in August as Consultant Physician allowing us to add General Medicine to the existing specialties of General Surgery, Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Paediatrics.  We also said goodbye to Godwin who has been in-charge of our laboratory for some years.
Dr Treasure (right) saying goodbye in Chapel

Dr. Charlie, Consultant Psychiatrist from New Zealand with his wife Cecelia

 Charlie & Cecelia said goodbye after a couple of months with us. Charlie provided valuable input to Psychiatry working with Sister Nancy and her team whilst Cecelia took many photographs and will be putting together a "coffee table" book illustrating aspects of Kisiizi which will be called A World of Difference -the design is still to be put together and we look forward to the finished item.

Rev. Patrick & Karen

However, the biggest change was to say farewell to Rev. Patrick Bagorogo and his wife Karen who have served in Kisiizi as Hospital Chaplain and Mothers' Union lead for many years.  As well as his principal role as Hospital Chaplain, Patrick also acted as Finance Manager for a period of time when there was a vacancy.  Karen was involved in many roles providing spiritual input to Children's Ward, and supporting the goat project which helps very poor families to have a better chance of feeding their children.

Sr. Nancy presents a gift at the big Farewell Party
Student Nurse presents gift in Chapel farewell for all the Staff

Final goodbyes before driving off (with Moses Mugume, left)


Sister Ruth has returned to Kisiizi after six months in Kampala having successfully completed training in Ultrasonography.  This will greatly improve the imaging department services as for a while Proscovia was the only full time sonographer.  

We are also training Bedad, previously our Orthopaedic Assistant, in a degree in Imaging which lasts four years but will mean in the end we will have a highly trained lead for the department.

Drs. Dash and Emily, Anaesthetic Registrar and GP respectively, join us with the Uganda Maternal and Newborn Hub link.  We are grateful for their support in theatre, developing high dependency care and maternity department support as well as helping with the introduction of more comprehensive triage as we open up the new Accident and Emergency area in our Out-Patient department.

We are delighted to welcome Francis Orishaba, a graduate Biomedical Scientist, to be our new In-Charge of the Laboratory services.  

This comes at a good time as we have just installed a range of new equipment to go up a gear in the support services offered to clinicians and improve our diagnostic and monitoring capabilities.
see    Lab Upgrade post on hospital website

We also look forward to another USA Peace Corps volunteer, Jennifer, joining us in March as a Pharmacist to work with Barbara and Sandra, our Pharmacy Technicians.  This is also excellent timing as we are re-configuring our stores and introducing a new IT system called Stre@mline.

The new Staff Room is in the old bank building
We were excited to receive our new chaplain, Reverend Joshua Bwebale with his wife Jocelyn.  She is working with Radio Rukungiri whilst Joshua has a range of experience having worked as a teacher, pastor and more recently as a specialist counsellor for patients with HIV.

We had an initial welcome cup of tea in our new staff room and then a welcome lunch party on Saturday as they arrived.

Welcome Tea in new Staff Room
Rev. Joshua and Jocelyn Bwebale

Come... all who are heavy laden...

Living here in Kisiizi we see all sorts of burdens being carried by individuals and vehicles... 
Jack fruit....


too much!

and if that is not enough, here is real People Trafficking!

Monday, 22 December 2014

Doctor, Doctor!

Yes, two doctors in the house now Mark has successfully completed his PhD at University of Reading. 

He had his oral examination on 18th December and passed with flying colours so he can now relax for Christmas.

He is working teaching undergraduate students Chemistry and seems to be enjoying this role greatly.  He has been asked to help write a textbook so that is a new venture for him.

Teacher, Teacher!

We are also very proud of Ruth who has survived another term teaching in a school in Islington while at the same time working for a Masters with Homerton College, Cambridge.  So life is busy for her but she has done very well.

All together now...

We are very happy to have been able to arrange a brief trip back to UK for Christmas so will be with Mark and Ruth and then we all go for a 3-night visit to Holland to see the family there before we return to Kisiizi flying out on 3rd January for a further six months.  After that we are not sure how things will work out.... so watch this space!

Ends of the earth...

It seems that more and more countries are hearing about Kisiizi!  We have just had our first application for an elective attachment from a medical student in Iceland!

Kiwi Invasion:

We have enjoyed a good New Zealand contingent with two trainee midwives, Natasha and Katy, joining us for five weeks and then Nadia, an experienced neonatal nurse, coming up from Kisoro to help us for a month or so.  Then Charlie, a psychiatrist from New Zealand with his wife Cecelia, originally from Chile, have joined us for a couple of months - she is a photo-journalist and psychologist.  We also welcomed Lesley, a manager with CMS New Zealand, for a brief visit.

Beth, a trainee phyiotherapy student, joined us from USA and we had medical students from Germany as well as UK so a really nice international mix.  Add to this Ugandans coming from different parts of the country, some unable to speak the local Rukiga dialect, and you will appreciate the richness of the mix of people working together.


We also enjoyed a visit by our World Health Organization country director and his team plus the District Health Officer from Kabale.  They were impressed by what Kisiizi is  doing and we hope the visit will lead to more interaction in future and the spread of our patient safety programmes.

Importantly we also welcomed members of our Board of Governors and were happy to have the externally audited accounts available up to the 30th June 2014 that were duly approved.  There will be some follow-up meetings to look at our 5-year Strategic Plan and the Terms & Conditions of Service and  Constitution so these are important bits of work to finalise.
One way Kisiizi has received publicity is to be included in a Cultural Museum near to Mbarara


Ian is working with Rimpscom, an IT company in Mbarara, on the Stre@mline computer software programme that he had developed in Macclesfield.  This is because the existing IT package in Kisiizi has proved frustrating as it does not have the functionality we need and has proved impossible to upgrade or edit.  Stre@mline is an integrated programme that follows the patient journey and incorporates important patient safety principles.  Management have now given approval for Stre@mline to be piloted in out-patients and if this goes well we will extend it systematically to the wards.  If we achieve good functionality we will install it in a sister hospital in Kabale and if both units have a successful outcome then we will aim to write it up and make it more widely available at a low price appropriate for places like Kisiizi.  If it works out well, it could be used "to the ends of the earth"....
The programme will provide much more accurate data as all the information is stored in an underlying SQL database.  The programme uses a browser front-end interface so its easy to learn how to use the system.

Feel like a walk?

Join us for an hour's walk up the path behind Kisiizi up the hills to look at the area and to look back down on Kisiizi nestling at the head of a valley...

"Rent a crowd" is always immediately available!
meet with us some of the lovely children who seem to be able to spot us coming very rapidly.  You will note how we live in a very poor community.
a typical homestead on a hill side with banana plantations around

making new friends
Children have to work to help their families, here they are collecting firewood for cooking, this is relatively light work compared to fetching water from springs which can be very hard work.

Here looking back to Kisiizi we see how it lies in the head of a valley in the Kigezi highlands.  The hospital is about 5,500 feet above sea level so although near the equator the climate is generally pleasant and not too humid.

Of course, being in hills means we can get a lot of rain but sometimes the clouds themselves are beautiful to behold...

typical homestead with corrugated iron roof and mud walls

spot the boy high in the tree...
There are more plantations of trees as economically timber is valuable

Hello again!

 As we return towards Kisiizi we see the hospital laid out before us.  The roundabout is in front of the Chapel which is at the centre of the original building that previously housed a flax factory.  The two storey building seen to the right is the Maternity ward upstairs and Children's ward below.  Behind the old flax building the blue/green roof is the new hydro-electricity generator house.  In the foreground on the right is the isolation and medical ward block  with the new mothers waiting home to the right and the rehabilitation hostel nearest the camera.
Just to the left of the middle of the foreground is a greenish roof - this building used to be a bank but is now housing the Staff Room and the Records and Data department.

As always we are amazed that, as we have often said, if you flew over Kisiizi and blinked you would miss it as geographically its quite small.  But now with the mothers waiting home taking us up to 284 beds and more activity and training going on, Kisiizi is having an ever growing influence near and far.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Catch up...

 Squashing a lot in...

How to fit a large immunisation cool-box in a small hospital Suzuki...
Time to catch up as Ian has been away in Kampala for a week speaking on Ebola/Marburg at the Uganda Maternal & Newborn Hub meeting in Mulago on the Monday; visiting WHO Country Office on Tuesday and then attending the Uganda Medical Association conference in Jinja at the end of the week when he gave a talk on Integrating Patient Safety which was well received.

Back to a busy clinical schedule as Dr. Josephine, our other Paediatric Consultant, is on leave/days off.  Thankfully we have an excellent visiting registrar from N Ireland, Lynne Speirs, who is a great help.  We have just had the national intern change over so now orientating the junior doctors in their new specialties.  Unfortunately due to national financial constraints, we have no new doctors posted here so will be running with six instead of eight interns.  However we are happy to have some visiting doctors from UK, Michaela who is here until December, and Richard & Katie with us until July.  We also have welcomed Nadia, a neonatal nurse from CMS New Zealand for 3 months.

Prior to the Kampala trip Ian had represented the hospital at the regional Independence Day celebrations, the only muzungu (European) in a large crowd, a somewhat amusing scenario as some of the songs were celebrating the departure of the Brits!
Mental Health team from Cheshire & Wirral partnership trust

Hanna remains very busy with her more-than-full-time role in Maternity and also running the Guest House plus providing a lot of hospitality to many visitors.  We enjoy the comings and goings of people from all over Uganda and overseas that enrich our community here.

We had a good AGM of our Kisiizi Health Insurance scheme with about 150 group leaders representing over 36,000 members.

Dr Josephine, Dr Gabriel, Justine, Dr Bruce and Bowers planning HIV programmes
There have been many late into the night meetings to try and organise a budget for our HIV services as these have been re-organised due to the political fall out in Uganda where USAID suddenly dropped its links to our previous funding channel.  In fact it has been a good thing to review the programme and draw up new targets.

Now we have a plastic surgery camp this week working on infants with cleft lips and palates. We have a visiting team of two radiographers from Chester for a fortnight and we have a biomedical engineering technician conference here on Saturday. The following week we will have our Board of Governors meeting and then a paediatric team from Bwindi Hospital will visit at the beginning of December.
The list goes on... a bit like homework!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Special deliveries...

Well, we have certainly noticed the 9-months post-Christmas holidays impact on birth rate with a big surge in deliveries meaning Hanna has been working really hard.  By 27th September there had already been 220 births in the month!  As we are still short of senior experienced midwives, and as our percentage of abnormal deliveries is  high because many normal deliveries still take place at home, it is quite demanding.   

In addition the intern doctors rotate every 3 months and need induction and support to settle in.  We are grateful to Dr. Helen Allott from Royal Berkshire Hospital who has made many visits to Kisiizi and has just been here for 6 weeks.  She ran a series of training sessions for the intern doctors on emergency obstetrics.

Special Care Baby Unit continues to care for a range of neonatal problems including small preterm babies.  The photo above shows one of our nurses inserting a cannula to give intravenous fluids for a small premature baby in an incubator. What makes the photo even more special is that the nurse was delivered by Ian when we were first in Kisiizi in the late 80's!

We never know what we will see next.  The photos show a baby born with hyper-extended legs due to mother having oligohydramnios (reduced water around the baby) in pregnancy.   

The baby was treated with plaster of paris casts and physio and made excellent progress.