Window on Kisiizi

Window on Kisiizi

Sunday, 17 January 2016

New Year Rollercoaster...

The murram road throught the Kisiizi compound area
As usual living in Kisiizi brings a mix of frustrations, disappointments and challenges plus encouragements, blessings and exhilaration!

Some of the challenges...

On the staffing side we are sad that Dr Dwight and Sandy McLeod had to unexpectedly and suddenly return to UK to care for elderly parents with health problems.  We do hope they will be back with us before too long. Dwight is a specialist Physician and Sandy has valuable nursing experience and has been helping run the Guest House.

Sister Esther, previous Principal Nursing Officer and a very good friend, lost her mum after a long illness so Hanna went to be with the family and to attend the funeral.  Hanna also had to go up to Kampala for dental treatment so has become very familiar with the coach / minibus journey (its about 7 hours to drive in a private car travelling from Kisiizi to Kampala and of course with public transport there can be significant extra delays).

The scandal of a terribly wasted child's ribcage
We still have great sorrow when we see patients arriving too late for us to help.  A mother came recently having had a Caesarian section at a government clinic two days earlier.  She arrived in Kisiizi with gross anaemia, her haemoglobin test being only 2.7 (should be above 10) and in spite of full supportive treatment and transfusion she died the following day.  We still see children coming in grossly wasted and malnourished and can only press on with our Nutrition, Family Planning and Community programmes to try and prevent these tragedies.
Another child with a swollen body for 2 weeks...

Getting better!


Financially we are aware of a fall-off in the regular support from Kisiizi Partners but we are very grateful that some of the shortfall has now been made up and we thank those who have made donations, especially the regular standing orders, to help us continue the work here.  We greatly appreciate all the efforts made by the trustees of Kisiizi Partners and for all those who pray for Kisiizi and give in different ways - thank you.

... and some of the encouragements!

The old floor...

We were very grateful to hear from All Souls church in London that they are giving a further gift towards the cost of the renovation of the (embarassingly bad!) old out-patient clinic area to make a fit-for-purpose Maternal & Child Health Clinic.  People are now getting excited as the work proceeds and the new unit takes shape.  It is a busy department with ante-natal and post-natal mothers plus immunisation, child welfare and family planning plus the HIV mother-baby point work.
Transformation underway with skylights and terrazo floors...

We are also excited that after a long period of planning we are due to commence the foundations for our new Mental Health Unit supported by Jamie's Fund.  We recently enjoyed a visit from Linda Shuttleworth and colleagues from the Cheshire & Wirral Mental Health Trust in Chester to support Sister Nancy and our mental health team.  We are due to have a meeting in a few days time with Basic Needs charity representatives and colleagues from Bwindi Hospital, Nyakibale and Kabale as
we seek to plan joined up community mental health services to reach the huge need.  Kisiizi currently sends out two mental health clinics a month and will have between 80 and 120 patients turning up each time.

New Staff accommodation, greatly needed, is under construction with support from our friends in Kisiizi Partners.  Management have decided to renovate another old building for more staff accommodation and to allow us to rationalise the location of hostels for our male student nurses.

The meadow on the way to Kisiizi Falls.
Note the trees felled as we harvest timber.
After a long period with little happening, the interest in developing Kisiizi Falls as a tourist destination has picked up again.  The Ugandan Ministry of Tourism has put Kisiizi forward for a grant from the STEP programme of the United Nations (Sustainable Tourism, Eliminating Poverty) which we understand is sponsored by South Korea.  We should be receiving some financial support to improve the infrastructure such as paths and steps for access to the waterfall and surrounding area plus some added attractions such as a hanging bridge to view the falls.  We are pleased that as a Management Team we have been able to constructively guide the plans to make sure nothing is done to detract from the natural beauty or the work of the hospital or the lives of its staff.  So for example instead of a monument and a hanging bridge in front of the Falls we have proposed the bridge is located in a gorge off to one side so it will not detract from the traditional view of the waterfall.  Similarly the monument, to commemorate the girls who died in the past when thrown over the falls if they became pregnant before marriage, will be sited behind the path to avoid any interruption of the view.

Proposed developments

Another completely different but strategic development is the Stre@mline IT programme we are developing.  Encouragingly we have been approved for a grant by the Uganda National Council for Science & Technology.  This was a bid against a range of other projects so we are delighted to be awarded the grant which will help us to develop the system.  Increasingly we realise how much impact it may have as we improve our data collection, finances and stock control as well as all the patient safety benefits.

When Ian gave a presentation a month or two ago in Kampala at the Uganda Protestant Medical Bureau annual conference a lot of other units expressed great interest.  We will pilot here first then Stre@mline will be trialed at Rugarama Hospital in Kabale.  Others including Bwindi and Kagando are also keen to be involved.

JOY to the world!

 After a very busy year for all four of us, it was a great JOY to be reunited as a family to spend Christmas together...

Having successfully graduated as PhD, Mark teaches undergraduates at Reading University in the chemistry department.  He has just been offered the chance to lecture in China for a week in March which should be very interesting...

The 8-legged 2-necked Siamese giraffe... or was it my glasses??

Ruth obtained her Masters Education degree from Hommerton College, Cambridge and continues to teach a primary school class in Islington, north London.

The last time we were all four together in Kisiizi was way back in 2005 so it was very special to meet up again in Kigali airport, Rwanda.  We took an extra day to visit the Akagera game park in eastern Rwanda and were thrilled to see not only the wonderful giraffes and elephants but even a beautiful leopard in a bush by the track.  It is rare to see leopards in daylight, and it stared at us for a moment before turning and strolling off into the bush... just a brief encounter but one of those magical moments we will all remember.
On to Kisiizi (had a puncture that could have been serious if it had happened a few minutes earlier, and within 2 minutes of stopping by the side of the road a colleague from Kisiizi drove up behind us!) and a few busy days... Hanna helping out on Maternity and organising Christmas lunch, and Ian was on call from Christmas Eve through to Boxing Day for paediatrics  while Mark and Ruth were roped in to help with judging the annual Ward Competition and presenting the results at the Staff Christmas Party, an extraordinary event where over 700 had a good hot meal and Ian gave a "state of Kisiizi" presentation.  All went well and after Ian preached at the Christmas Day service we enjoyed having our Medical Officers and Interns for Christmas lunch...
Mark viewing the volcanoes

Then we took some days off to enjoy some of the beauty of the region on our way to return Mark and Ruth to Kigali airport.  We were blessed to see some amazing animals and breath-taking scenery and by the time we said our goodbyes had filled the memory-banks for some time to come and thank God for such a special time together with safe travel and good weather.

not just any chameleon... a Rwenzori three-horned male chameleon!

We managed to get back to Kisiizi 15 minutes before the New Year began so were with the excited crowd on the Primary School playground for the traditional countdown...

Reflecting on the beauty all around!

Ruth and Hanna

Together again!