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Day one - Saying 'Jambo' to old friends

Thursday, 19 November, 2015
Day one – Saying ‘Jambo’ to old friends

Despite arriving late last night, the team were up and out early this morning keen to make the first visit to the hospital.  For two members of the team, theatre nurse Kirsty and international support officer Emma, it was their first time ever visiting KCMC. There are only five of us here so far with the others arriving in the coming days.

When we first entered the hospital, it seemed surprisingly quiet but after entering the wards and waiting areas we soon realised this wasn’t because of a lack of patients. In fact people were sitting everywhere we looked but it was because they were literally being ‘patient’ – waiting quietly with their loved ones waiting to see a doctor or nurse. We had a quick tour of the hospital and met Dr Kondo, head of surgery and a very good friend of the link, who introduced us to his colleagues and warmly welcomed us. We were also delighted to meet the new CEO, Dr Masenga, whom has worked with Northumbria for many years on an ultrasound project. Dr Masenga updated us on what had been happening in KCMC and again, we were made to feel very welcome. 

On our way around the hospital there were also lots of other familiar faces and people seemed to embrace us “Jambo” in every department. They all knew Brenda Longstaff, our head of charity development and international, very well and were thrilled to see her and the burns nurses return again this year. Everyone seemed to know Northumbria and were over the moon to see familiar faces.

Whilst moving around the hospital, it wasn’t long before we were informed that one of the queues we had seen earlier was in fact a queue of patients waiting to see our team undertaking the burns project. The queue was full of children, including 16 year old Frankie and little Pascalina, who had been seen by the team the year before. We couldn’t believe they’d returned. It was great to see them smiling and healthy.

A triage session soon commenced with burns nurses, Catherine and Meg, heading to the ward to meet patients and begin triage in preparation for the plastic surgeon Mr Rawlins arriving in the next couple of days. Triage on the ward was tough as the children had some very, very severe burns. One little boy in particular, Hattibo, had suffered horrific injuries all over his body and was in a very critical condition.  As Meg and Catherine needed to take a look at their injuries, we soon became their least favourite people. The children, naturally, d were frightened they were going to be “hurt”. However, after some very careful care to undress their wounds, along with a few lollipops dished out by the team, they eventually calmed down. It’s never nice to hear a young child cry but I think it will stick with us all. On a positive note the team were delighted to see that the nurses at KCMC were now using Vaseline gauze as standard practice, which means the patients would be so much more comfortable and their wounds heal much quicker. It seems the previous year’s training was truly starting to pay off!

Triage continued with 17 patients presented to the team with a burns injury, many of which had resulted in disability and infection and were really concerning to us all. Some people had lived with severe disability for years  and were hopeful to have life changing surgery. We all felt anxious to discuss the patients with Jeremy and although it was only day one, we knew this was going to be a tough couple of weeks. 

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