Offloading the new mattresses at Kintambo Health Center
Kipata Katika and his wife next to hard bed
Typical bed at Nselo Baptist Hospital - wooden slats covered with a thin grass mat
Cement beds at Boko Hospital
Expectant mothers in the Maternity ward at Moanza with new sheets on the beds
Katherine holds a newborn while its mother enjoys new sheets and a new mattress
More mattresses coming through!
The whole mattress unloading crew
New mattresses are a significant felt need by all our hospitals. Once, on a supervision trip to the CBCO (Baptist) Hospital in Kipata KatikaDr. Swah, (medical director at the time) took us through the patient ward to introduce us to patients and briefly describe each one's situation. We lingered at one cement bedside to exchange words of encouragement and sympathy with a bony middle aged man who sat in a woven chair while his wife and attendant, took her turn on the hard bed laid with a mat of reeds and a single cloth.
Their cheerful conversation betrayed the gravity of their situation. The man, Dr. Swah explained, had fallen from a palm tree some months before and was paralyzed below his waist. He'd developed bed sores in the village, and his wife recently brought him to the hospital for care. Dr. Swah did extensive debridement of the ulcers ... and with empathy and sadness, he place his hand on his patient's shoulder almost apologizing for the fact that, even with bed sores, the man lay on a hard bed. "I know how to care for such a patient," Dr. Swah assured us, "but we lack even a piece of a mattress on which to lay him. With the help of this chair, we change his position and pressure points several times a day."
At the CBCO (Baptist) medical meetings, attended each year by the medical directors of all eleven of CBCO's hospitals, Dr. Mafuta from the CBCO Hospital at Nselo explained how they struggled to keep mattresses in good enough condition to use for patient care. They'd made a valiant attempt to put a line in the hospital budget for mattress replacement, but that amount was inadequate to the need, and covering mattress replacement in a budget already stretched too thinly, is impossible. Nselo received 13 new mattresses in 2008 from "left over" White Cross container funds.
At Boko, one ward is furnished with cement beds, affectionately known as "tombs". This design of bed is practical for maintenance and cleaning, but a little hard of patient bodies. Patients bring mats and cloths from home as bedding for their hospital stay. The Baptist Hospital at Boko also received 12 mattresses in 2008 from left over White Cross funds.
Earlier this year, I visited the Baptist Hospital at Moanza, to accompany the shipment of 2009 white cross supplies. Moanza also recieved 12 mattresses in 2008. In the shipment accompanying me, there were two boxes of new sheets. At one point in our tour of the hospital, Dr. Lombo, the medical director, seemed to needlessly stall for time. As if on cue, he led us to visit the maternity. Behold, the mattresses from 2008 had been hastily dressed with new sheets from 2090, and several expectant mothers couldn't resist the offer to pose with me for a picture. For them, it was likely the chance of a lifetime, to lay on clean white sheet over a soft mattress after delivering their baby!
This year, with leftover funds from 2009, I have purchased 100 mattresses ($43/each) and these will be divided again among the 11 medical institutions along with this year's White Cross supplies. These "left over" funds become again the blessing of mattresses for many patients, and where there are decent mattresses, the hospital staff can receive patients with greater pride and take better care of them.
The whole health center staff got involved in the off-loading, though I'd recruited 3 sets of strong arms from home! It was fun to feel their excitement. Arrangements to get these mattresses trucked to our hospitals will happen in September. There will be many appreciative patients!
Many thanks for giving a cup of cold water (or a comfy mattress) in Christ’s name!