This is a first-person account from Erin Meier, a Nazarene missionary who serves at Kudjip Nazarene Hospital in Papua New Guinea, about how the hospital staff has adjusted due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
We put the tent to use the past two weeks, screening everyone coming to us with a fever, cough, and shortness of breath. It took some getting used to, but the patients were very understanding of our desire to screen folks for coronavirus. Some patients came to us specifically asking if they might have it.
As of Monday, we have seen over 280 patients and only had two patients that we considered might have it, but thankfully both were negative. Jiwaka Province has set up isolation centers at various Health Centers across the province for patients to go to who are exhibiting symptoms that might be suggestive of coronavirus. Thankfully, we haven’t needed to use them too much.
In our planning process, we had some seamstresses sew up some masks and lap-laps (a traditional loin-cloth) with some fabric we have had. Our staff does have appropriate masks when caring for patients, but they have appreciated having something, even when not taking care of patients, that is theirs and they can wear anytime. So, we have had a whole group of ladies busy making masks.
One thing this pandemic has reaffirmed for me is how much of a team we are at Kudjip and how much of a team we need to run this hospital — from the maintenance guys getting the tent up with power and water to the nursing staff and clerks working in the tent collecting demographic information and screening patients; from the doctors seeing the patients to the nursing directors working and reworking schedules to ensure we have the coverage we need; from security doing everything they can to ensure our safety and to helping the patients understand our new procedure to our hygienists who are keeping our facility clean; from our finance team processing payroll quickly to our drivers going and picking up and dropping off our staff each day so they can get to work; from our administrators working with Jiwaka Province in planning on the best course of action for us and the province to pharmacy preparing medicines to be used in the tent; and from to X-ray technicians adjusting to take X-rays in a new building for potential coronavirus patients to our storeroom folks gathering our supplies, and much, much, more.
I am thankful to be a part of this team of workers at Kudjip who are committed to the Lord and to serving those God brings our way.