AusHeal Blog

Report from Robyn Yared

As in previous years, the 2014 team is treating a variety of cases, many of which are very challenging. Medical treatment is not easily accessed by the Congolese hence many conditions develop to an advanced level.

2014 is the first time an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon has been part of the AusHEAL team. This has meant that treatment is possible for patients whose conditions are beyond the usual scope of the hospital. Prior to his arrival in DRC, Dr John Arvier was busy researching the various cases and demonstrating to the Heal Africa staff the necessity for thorough preparation for surgery. His first case has been the removal of a large ameloblastoma from a 23 year old female. The operation went well and the patient is now recovering in Intensive Care. Being able to witness such surgery lays aspirational foundations for Heal Africa staff and for an oral surgery department.

It has been encouraging to see the enthusiastic adoption of the surgery and swab count by the OT staff.  Theatre nurse, Anna Murray, who is on her first trip to DR Congo, has been greatly encouraged by the manner in which staff have enthusiastically adopted this new strategy, even suggesting ways to streamline surgery organisation to more readily facilitate the count.

Another first for our 2014 AusHEAL team has been the presence of a cardiologist. Dr Darryl Burstow is training Heal Africa staff in Echo Cardiography. A hand-held ultrasound machine has enabled patients to be assessed during ward rounds. This has allowed immediate feedback on heart function without the need for transport to the medical imaging department. This portable machine is a simplified form of echo examination which is ideal for the beginning stages of training.

Training in Dentistry is focussing on the teaching of Root Canal treatment with the two HEAL Africa dentists, Lea and Siva. This is an advanced skill which demonstrates the progress that has been made in the time Dr John Yared has been mentoring the dentists. On his first visit in 2006, there was no dentist or dental clinic at Heal Africa hospital. During the teaching sessions, the types of questions asked by the dentists reflect their enthusiasm and keenness to learn.

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Brisbane physiotherapist Louise Arvier has been focussing on a functional approach to treating children with the team of physiotherapists at the hospital. Up until now, the physio department has been implementing a clinical approach where patients come and receive treatment. Louise is working with the team to include parents and carers in the demonstration and practise of the activities with the patients so that it can be integrated into the daily lives of the children.

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Pain management is an issue common to many departments across the hospital. In any hospital setting, a strategic approach to minimising patient pain is needed. In the ER, Dr Graham Zerk has been able to demonstrate to staff that using pain relief for a patient actually makes their job easier e.g. cleaning a wound takes less time and a thorough job can be done when the patient is comfortable and not troubled by pain.

During Tuesday’s nurse education session entitled “Head to Toe Patient Assessment”, Damon Bruce (ICU nurse) gave training in several strategies to determine the level of pain being experienced by patients. Consequently, these practical strategies can be implemented by nurses to assess and subsequently minimise patient suffering.

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AusHEAL has donated wall mounted paper towel dispensers to the hospital. It has been exciting to see such a practical item so well used in various departments e.g. Sue Reid (sonographer) finds them invaluable when using gel during ultrasound procedures.