- Written by Kimberly Pepmiller Kimberly Pepmiller
- Created: 21 May 2018 21 May 2018
Our first day of clinic for this Mercy Medical Team in Tanzania was smooth, efficient and effective. This is a pleasantly surprising statement for a first clinic day! Our team arrived to the clinic site in Uchira around 8:00 AM and spent some time setting up the clinic flow and supplies. We are utilizing Uchira Lutheran Church for parts of the clinic, and a nearby neighbor has offered to let us use his brand new, under construction home for the clinic. It is a four-bedroom home with Western bathrooms, tile floors and a floor plan very conducive to a MMT. We have plenty of space to be comfortable and hopefully keep many patients out of the rain.
The personnel from the district medical office who are working with us arrived a bit later in the morning. Many of them have worked on MMTs before and are familiar with the flow and treatment plan. These personnel include doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians and pharmacy personnel. The Tanzanian nurses are paired with our MMT members to serve as interpreters and guides for healthcare in Tanzania.
The typical clinic flow is similar for all MMTs. The patients begin with a Gospel evangelism message from Pastor John Armstrong with translation assistance into Swahili from a local pastor. Tristan and Julian then measure vital signs while Lisa obtains the patient's weight. These first few stations take place in the church building. From there, the patients come to the house to complete nursing assessment and triage with Jamielynn, Kimberly, Maddie and Tess. Patients then proceed to see the physicians. A treatment room is available for medication injections, wound care and other treatment needs. A room is set up for laboratory testing, such as malaria, urinalysis and blood sugar. A separate room is available for HIV testing and counseling. Finally, the patients check out through the pharmacy where prescription medications are filled and explained to the patients.
Today our team was able to treat, both physically and spiritually, 125 patients. The lower numbers allowed us to develop a positive pace and flow. We anticipate more patients tomorrow as word spreads about our clinic and treatment abilities. In addition, today was a day for locals to obtain government ID cards, so many may have been occupied with this.
Common treatment diagnoses today included infections, such as upper respiratory tract infections, pneumonia and urinary tract infections. Fungal infections and GI issues were also common. High blood pressure and diabetes-related needs are two other prevalent conditions treated. There was only one patient who tested positive for malaria. This region of Tanzania has a low prevalence of malaria. We treated one young ten-year-old girl with a cataract. We are exploring resources to see how we can assist her. There are three main goals of the MMTs: (1) to connect patients to their local church, (2) to connect patients to their local health care workers and (3) to provide physical and spiritual care. Throughout our first clinic day, we were able to meet these goals.
Tonight we are hopeful for rest on a rainy night so we are prepared for our potentially busy second day tomorrow.
“Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kindness,” “mercy,” “loyalty,” “loving-kindness” or “steadfastness.” It’s the way God intends us to live together—a “love your neighbor as yourself,” active, selfless, sacrificial, caring-for-one-another brand of living contradictory to our fallen natures. The “Heseders” are continually looking to work together to share some small measure of God’s extraordinary love. Won’t you join us?