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Clinic

A Hammer and A Heart

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A Hammer and A Heart

hammer-heart-BANNEROur medical clinic in Arusha, Tanzania is a very well equipped facility with modern equipment including a full lab, X-ray, and ultrasound. We are a model for contemporary medical practice in East Africa. However, even with all of our ability we still regularly deal with situations in which we have to rely on the considerable skill and improvisational ability of Dr. Byemba and his staff. We recently saw a young man who had suffered a head injury eight years ago. The skull grew back improperly, giving him constant headaches and the embarrassment of having a misshapen head. He first came to our New Hope Initiative clinic several months ago desperately seeking help. Dr. Byemba recognized that this was outside the realm of our ability and encouraged the young man to go to the capital of Tanzania to seek a specialist. After spending all of his meager funds in the capital, he was unable to find anyone in the entire country who would help him.

hammer-heart-blogIn utter despair he returned to Arusha and begged for Dr. Byemba’s help. Knowing that his tools were inadequate, but possessing a heart of compassion and a confidence in his own skill, Dr. Byemba agreed to perform this complicated procedure. After purchasing a hammer and chisel from a local hardware store, the doctor skillfully and boldly reshaped the young man’s skull in a very complex procedure. Obviously Dr. Byemba prefers to use the most modern tools available, but wherever we lack the latest tools, we more than make up for it with skill, ingenuity, and heart. I am happy to report the young man is doing well. His headaches are greatly diminished and his head is cosmetically improved.

We ask our friends and partners to help us to equip the clinic with the very best tools available to us. It is our prayer that we will find the need to improvise less and less in the future. We currently have four pressing areas where further modernization is needed:

  1. A blood analyzer for hormones and biochemistry
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  2. A cast cutter to remove the large number of casts we have started doing due to our new X-ray.
  3. A portable digital X-ray unit for greater imaging flexibility.
  4. A generator capable of running the entire clinic due to the frequent electric outages in Tanzania.

It is this ongoing partnership between our local clinic staff and our western partners that makes the Olorien Community Clinic such a success.

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A Busy Monday

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A Busy Monday

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olorien-clinic-record How many patients do you think the average U.S. doctor sees on an average day? If you asked me I thought 20-30 patients a day sounds fair. After some research I found out I wasn’t too far from the average and while the numbers range based on practice or specialty - on the low end a highly-specialized doctor will meet and diagnosis close to 20 patients and on the other side of the spectrum an ER doctor may treat nearly 50 patients during a shift.

Taking into account that seeing just 20 patients takes an incredible amount of skill and expertise, it’s all the more amazing when you consider the news that last Monday 160 people were treated at the New Hope Initiative Olorien Community Clinic in Arusha, Tanzania.

One Hundred and Sixty.

The patients were children, parents, uncles, grandparents, boys, girls, men & women - all ages and the reasons for visits likely ranged from common colds and respiratory issues to growth removals, broken bones and positive malaria diagnosis. Now you are probably thinking, “wow those doctors (plural) were busy that day!”

Yes, Dr. Byemba – the head doctor and only doctor on site that day – was busy as he diagnosed & treated the large majority of all these cases. Much like an ER doctor, Dr. Byemba throughout the day will go from the exam room to the operating room multiple times and while the instruments are sterilized in the autoclave for the next procedure, he will see the patients not requiring surgery.

To be honest it would be easy to recognize just Dr. Byemba and his incredible work because what he does on a daily basis astonishes almost everyone that has the chance to spend the day with him. But Dr. Byemba would be the first to say that he couldn’t do this alone. The staff – from the clerk checking patients in and the nurses taking vitals to the lab technicians analyzing samples and the pharmacist distributing medications that in many cases will save someone life – together deserve to be applauded for their hard work.

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I was raised to always highlight a job well done and just saying “well done” almost doesn’t seem sufficient when it comes to a person’s health and life. Yet, it’s a great place to start when recognizing the amazing staff that serve this small community in Tanzania six days a week. It is also easy to celebrate when the numbers hit 160 but how much more would you commend their work if you then found out that on Tuesday more than 120 people came, on Wednesday nearly 130 and they averaged that for the rest of the week. On Saturday evening as the front gates closed more than 800 people had passed through the clinic and this small dedicated staff of nurses, technicians, clerks and pharmacists led by Dr. Byemba brought comfort and in many cases healing to a community. When you watch the news and you hear about so many terrible things happening around the world – please take a moment and think about this amazing team in O’Lorien and smile knowing that there are people still doing great things and pursuing work on a daily basis that it so much greater than themselves.

By T.J. Walter - Olorien Clinic Project Director

 

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A Day At The Clinic

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A Day At The Clinic

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a-day-at-clinic-post-3 It’s shortly after 8 a.m. in Arusha, Tanzania and the scene unfolding on the street in front of the New Hope Olorien community clinic, while new to me, is a familiar one for the 15+ member staff and those that live nearby. The street, unpaved and barely wide enough to fit two cars side-by-side quickly fills with dust, commotion and plenty of engine exhaust and it stays that way for much of the morning. People arrive by foot and bicycle, others hitch a ride on a motorcycle or the always entertaining dala dala (a Tanzanian taxi which was likely made to fit 7-8 riders that typically is filled to double that capacity). I watch as older men with canes, young pregnant women, a teenage boy, an entire family with an ailing aunt and an elderly Masaii matriarch - all ages, all backgrounds - all arrive to the clinic looking for answers and relief from their pain.

“This is one of the most popular bus stops in the neighborhood,” Dr. Byemba, the man nearly everyone is coming to see, says to me as we watch people walk through the entrance and begin the check-in process. By the end of today more than 70 patients will pass through his care – “a very slow day,” according to the doctor – by the end of month nearly 3,000 and at year’s end close to 30,000 people will have the chance to answer the question, “Je, ni kuumiza?” or “What is hurting?”

For many people the words “clinic” and “Africa” may conjure up images of tents or rudimentary operating rooms and lines of people haphazardly waiting for medication and while these do exist, the New Hope clinic is far from this reality. Thanks to the generous donations of many of you that are reading this and the work of Dr. Byemba and his staff, the NHI clinic is a top-notch, government accredited medical facility. Instead of temporary tents and disorganization, the NHI clinic is a three, cement building compound with a dedicated lab, x-ray facility, pharmacy, ultrasound, operating room, multiple examination rooms and it utilizes an electronic medical charting system that allows the doctor to track patients and streamline the check-in process much like visiting the doctor in the United States.

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By the end of the day, I’ll have the chance to watch Dr. Byemba diagnosis and treat respiratory issues, remove multiple teeth and a cyst, perform a circumcision along with reexamining and evaluating multiple prior treatments on patients including a finger amputation and a child suffering from epileptic symptoms. While I’m reminded of the many patients I saw that day, it’s the faces of the last two patients that have remained consistently in my thoughts as of late.

Joseph was a laborer who started experiencing pain and swelling in his hand. He visited a local clinic near his home where they simply cleaned and scrubbed a small wound on his hand and sent him off with a basic medication for pain (Tylenol). The pain and swelling didn’t stop and after visits to five more clinics and hospitals many of which performed the same treatment all to the same effect, the pain became almost unbearable and he arranged a ride to the NHI clinic on the advice of a friend to see Dr. Byemba. Swollen nearly twice its size, Byemba said his hand was within days of needing complete amputation – remember that Joseph was a laborer who needs both hands to work – but after examining him and seeing where the issue was coming from, a small cut on a finger that became extremely infected, Dr. Byemba removed the finger and within a day the swelling began to subside.  Now, nearly a week later the hand was back to normal with no sign of infection and Joseph was able to resume work.

Godwin is less than a year old and I was in the outdoor waiting area of the clinic as he was carried in by his father late in the afternoon. With his arms and legs dangling motionless beyond his dad’s frame, it was his eyes that were glassed over and rolled back that caught my attention. Soon after he was seen by the doctor I had the chance to learn more about what was wrong. Several months after birth, Godwin developed a fever one day which went undiagnosed and untreated. That fever eventually went on to cause brain and nerve damage that triggered sometimes eight or more epileptic seizures a day. Unable to find a doctor that they could afford that would treat Godwin near their home on the other side of Arusha, they heard about the NHI clinic and soon had the chance to meet with Dr. Byemba. After several tests, Byemba was able to diagnosis and source a prescription that would ease the seizures, the first step in a multi-faceted recovery process. Now several weeks later, Godwin is seizure free and while he still has a long road ahead of him, the family and Dr. Byemba are consulting with a local specialist to do all they can to help Godwin regain basic muscle functions.

These are just two of the hundreds of cases that are occurring each and every day at the clinic. Our goal is to bring more and more of their stories to you throughout the coming year and hopefully it will spur you to action – maybe you have a desire to serve in the clinic (we have a fully-furnished, American style apartment on site that is available), maybe you can support the clinic either financially or sourcing needed medical supplies but nonetheless we hope that you will pray for the clinic and the amazing work that is being done on a daily basis.

Written by T.J. Walter

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A New Water Well

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A New Water Well

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You probably have never considered water usage as a critical part of medical care. In western culture such an issue would never cross our minds. However, in developing countries water and water-related needs are a part of every facet of life. Due to the expansion of our medical facility in Arusha, Tanzania, the number of patients treated daily continues to grow and we have developed a very acute water shortage. Clean water is critical to hygiene and quality care at a medical facility and a lack of adequate municipal water was threatening our ability to handle the daily patient load. The need was so critical that the government had considered limiting the number of patients we could see, despite the pressing medical needs that abound in that community. This summer one of our visiting team members heard of this plight and immediately offered to pay the entire cost of having a well dug for the clinic. Wells are expensive and this was a very generous ands totally unexpected offer. We are happy to report that on the very first day of drilling we found an ample supply of clean safe water! Our visiting team members often provide the catalyst for future growth. We are thankful for the success of this project and for the donors who made it happen.

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Tanzanian Clinic Expansion

We are putting the finishing touches on an exciting and extensive remodeling project at our medical clinic in Arusha, Tanzania. The new wing will more than double the space of the facility and make it more effective for us as our patient base continues to expand. The new two-story wing will host all of our imaging services (x-ray and ultrasound), a new receptionist office, and a waiting area that will greatly improve crowd flow in the facility. Clinic Inside

Clinic Outside

We will have an entire floor upstairs that will be set aside for future development. The new facility should be fully operational in the coming weeks and will not only improve the effectiveness of our center but also raise the visibility of our presence in the greater Arusha area. We are still in need of about $25,000 to finish the project so please be praying with us that these funds will be available shortly.