Saturday, January 26, 2013

Learning to Nurse

The hospital has opened!!!

After months of anticipation and expectation, the big moment has finally arrived, and Don Bosco Health Center is a fully functioning health facility.  The first week was void of the overwhelming and stressful emotions anticipated, by the grace of God it was quite peaceful and calm- the polar opposite of my year of nursing at Lehigh Valley Hospital on 6K!! :)  (Shout out to my girls!  Miss you all!)  Since our hospital is staring brand new and the majority of the staff are foreign missionaries new to this culture (except the doctor and laboratory technician who are locals) we are starting out very slowly with the cases we accept in our facility.  Right now simple illness and simple medicines are all, the rest are being referred to Maridi Hospital in town.  Our practice will advance as we gain experience and become more comfortable with the types of patients walking through the door.  For these reasons, and because God is compassionate and merciful, there we no major events in the first week, but a pleasant environment for healing ensued.  It was a consolation after all the nerves in preparation!
Don Bosco Health Center Staff:
Sister Meriline (nurse/supervisor), me, Sister Shanta (assisting),
Dr. Grace, and Stewart (lab tech)
Opening Day Mass
Some patients waiting to see the Doctor
Opening Day
The surprise came in week two.  Over the weekend, Sister Meriline, the head nurse and supervisor of the hospital announced she needed to take another trip to Uganda to reconcile all the discrepancies with our medication order.  No problem… except leaving me as the only nurse in the whole place on my second week of nursing in South Sudan!  Our quiet first week had offered me the experience of giving a few intramuscular injections, a little bit of wound care, and simply passing pills.  Hardly any real nursing at all, which wasn’t a problem for me until a first week of minimal experience left me the RN in charge of whatever would walk through the front door in the week to follow.  Again, my human weakness leaving me worried about something that I knew God would take care of in the end.

The week of Sister’s absence, although different and more challenging than the first, was successful and peaceful.  Inevitably, some serious cases did walk through the door towards the end of the week: two cases of severe malaria in young babies, a young woman who could hardly stand from the effects of advanced typhoid fever, and an elderly man with pneumonia.  Had Sister Meriline been present, I’m certain she would have performed much of the care of these patients, and I left to observe.  Instead of feeling frazzled and unprepared for the tasks that arose, thanks to the circumstances, the outcome was an unexpected emotion: confidence.  Despite the unfamiliar equipment, the list of medications here that we aren’t using in the States, the rusty skills I haven’t been practicing after all these months, yet I was able to tackle all the obstacles that arose.  Nothing so challenging occurred, but every small success left me with a little flower of fulfillment and gratitude for the Lord’s faithfulness.    

In other news, school opens on Monday!  Stoked.  Let the fun begin!

“He said not: You shall not be troubled, you shall not be tempted, 
you shall not be distressed.  
But he said: You shall not be overcome.”
-Julian of Norwich


  1. A+ post. Thank you for writing it!

  2. Congrats, Gracie, to all involved in opening the hospital, and to you for carrying out your unexpected responsibility with--should I say "grace"? Your trust in the Lord is wonderful and gives him the opening to do wonders thru you. God bless you.

  3. Great job, Grace, and thank you for posting the pics, too!