A Day in Ilula

Date posted: Thursday 25 January 2018

This week's story comes from the current group of medical practitioners and learners from Minnesota who are accompanying their counterparts at Ilula Lutheran Hospital in Iringa this January and February. You can find more stories from group participants on their blog.
The days begin early as usual with church bell clangs and roosters' relentless calls. Who needs an alarm?? Today after a quick cup of Africafe, sitting outside the guest house overlooking the valley I headed out for a brisk walk down the now familiar dirt road, through the hospital's white iron gates, past the man sitting outside his shop waving , red brick houses, past the primary school and the many children in blue and white uniforms wearing their cranberry colored sweaters calling after me "Good morning", and on into the farm fields of corn, beans, tomatoes and squash reaching far to the foot of the rocky hills surrounding the valley around Ilula. A walk most of us take at some point of the day early at sunrise or later in the afternoon when the sun is setting. The smell of freshly plowed earth and rain from the night before is extra peaceful. 
After breakfast, we met with staff of Ilula Hospital every morning to lift up a prayer with those that wish to and to receive a report update on important events and statistics over the last 24 hours. Today Dr. Sovelo, doctor in charge, asked the staff to share their ideas about a certain interesting case that had been presented. Maybe it is the teacher in me, but I really appreciate the opportunity it offers staff to express their thoughts, ask questions, and offer alternative solutions. After the meeting which takes about 45 minutes, staff all retreat to their work areas and get started with their day. Today, I joined one of the nurses in the general ward, one I had met and rounded with on Monday, on our first day. She was happy to work with me this morning...and so we began! We worked side by side...for hours, me mostly trying to figure out the flow of the morning, her role in relation to the other 2 nurses, processes of med admin, such as how physician orders were written, interpreted and carried out, their role in patient care, family involvement, and how to best work within such a different and resource-poor setting. As Dr. Randy stated on our bus ride here, most medical people experience medical culture shock and I certainly am one of those. He said that people who travel usually embrace the change, enjoy the differences and experiences of different cultures but when it comes to medical care, medical people want things to be the same as they are used to. I came away today swallowing a big gulp of that feeling. I look forward to more working together in the spirit of collaboration, learning from each other, and lots of reflection...
With gratitude,
- Mary
Mary Renquist
RN and Instructor at Normandale Community College