At the end of last week, my Chadian pharmacist colleague and I were having to frantically buy plaster of Paris. All part and parcel of running a pharmacy in a hospital here in Chad. As I’ve no doubt recounted numerous times, it’s not just medicines that we have to ensure are available, but also many other medical supplies.
We’d had a good stock of plaster of Paris, ready and waiting for anyone who needed a limb putting in a cast. All of a sudden, the hospital was seemingly inundated with people with fractures and our stock was exhausted in a matter of days. The senior nurse surgeon who works here came into the pharmacy asking us to ensure that we had a good stock of this product. We went to the wards where he pointed out three guys who were waiting for plaster casts; two with leg fractures and one with an arm fracture. And we’d run out of plaster of Paris. I hate it when that happens! Within a few hours we’d managed to find enough in town to get all of these patients in their respective casts and we breathed a sigh of relief.
Why so many bones fractures? They are mainly due to road accidents. Many people travel on motorbikes as they’re a cheap form of transport. It’s very unusual to see one person on a motorbike. A motorbike owner will always offer a lift to someone else travelling in the same direction. Throw in the traffic here and the fact that people carry all sorts of stuff on the back of a motorbike and you’ve soon got a recipe for fractured bones.
|Two on a motorbike, plus a bench and some paint|
Fast-forward to this morning. I was in the pharmacy and my Chadian colleagues were talking in one of the village languages and I couldn’t understand what they were saying. Apart from the fact that they kept saying the name of one of our nurses here (let’s call him David, that’s not his real name. He’s in his mid-twenties). I asked what was up with David. They said they weren’t sure but that someone had come in saying he’d been involved in an accident last night and was asking if he was in our hospital. ‘No’ my colleagues replied. The man departed but my colleague tried calling David’s phone. No answer. He tried another nurse who lives near David, who said he’d try and find out what was going on. A few hours later he calls back saying that David is in the central hospital with a fractured femur after being knocked off a motorbike by a car last night. Cutting some to-ing and fro-ing short, eventually our hospital driver goes and collects David in our ambulance. He brings him to us at Guinebor Hospital, so that he can be in a place he knows and also much nearer his home, so that it’s easier for his family to visit. We hear that he’s received little in the way of care at the central hospital because he didn’t have much money with him. No money up-front, no healthcare it would seem. He arrives with us with a copy of his leg x-ray and a makeshift cast on his leg made out of cardboard and some bandages.
Our senior nurse surgeon, the one who asked us to make sure we’ve got enough plaster of Paris in stock, is hoping to operate on David’s leg very soon. And it's likely he’ll be using some of the remaining plaster of Paris that we frantically acquired last week. I’m glad David is here with us at Guinebor now, amongst colleagues who will care for him. The staff here are like one big family and it’s hit me that ‘one of our own’ has had to endure such a serious accident and then apparently sub-optimal care at the central hospital.
Those reading this who pray, please pray for David’s recovery and also for all of the staff at Guinebor Hospital as we seek to ensure we have enough supplies and enough personnel to deal with all the cases that come through the door. Thank you :)