This past week the whole team moved up to Nkoaranga Hospital. It’s a small hospital slightly up in the mountains about an hour outside Arusha, at the base of Mount Meru! Being Tanzania’s 2nd highest mountain, our views and surroundings are incredible!
There was a national holiday in Tanzania this Monday so our team took advantage of this long weekend and head out for a great 3 day Safari Adventure! We spent the first say in Tarengire, our second day at Ngorongoro Crater, and our final day at Lake Mayara park! We were up close with tons of wild animals! Lots of excitement for all of us! Zebras, wildebeests, buffalo, lions, giraffes, hippos, warthogs, meerkats (so Timone and Pumba!), ostrich, impalas, gazelles, storks, flamingos, pelicans and many other colourful birds!
We spent the first two days of this week working in Dr. Frank Akyoo’s dental clinic at the Nkoaranga hospital. These days were a bit slower than our upcoming free community clinic days, but still an more exciting than our usual two patients a day back at school. The first day we treated five patients, and then eleven the second. Eleven patients in one day was BUSY for our standards, we barely had time for much of a break at all. The swahili-english language barrier was a real road block for us and slowed our pace down.
The final two days of this week, Thursday and Friday, were our free community clinic days! Without a doubt, these were our most rewarding days yet!! We really had a huge impact here and helped the lives over 70 patients…in two days!! Way busier than we’re used to back home!
Day one we saw 39 patients, with clinic running from 9:00-4:00! We were lucky to attend to and treat all patients who showed up by 4:00 and didn’t have too late of a day.
Day two we saw 33 patients and ran it from 9:00 until about 4:30. Both very successful days!!
Treatment is different here than we are used to in Canada. We are limited by the clinic we work in, and the resources we have available, but are learning quickly how to work with these differences. Our treatment is fairly limited to fillings, scaling/cleanings, and extractions. Most of our treatment so far has been extractions simply because most patients here wait for their decaying or problematic teeth to progress to the point where they are not savable, (or at least not salvageable with Tanzania’s limited resources). We are unable to perform root canal treatment here due to lack of appropriate instruments, supplies and resources; so once the dental pain reaches an irreversible stage, the only treatment we can offer here to relieve the pain is extraction.
It’s really nice this year to have three dental students compared to the usual two. During the free clinic days, we run two “ops”, one in the main dental chair (picture posted is past post), and the second “op”, just in the front room – while we’re working it consists of only a standard house chair, and sink. We wear headlamps for lighting, and some slightly awkward, non-ideal acrobatic positioning to work efficiently. The third dental student will either be assisting another, sterilizing instruments, or taking down names outside and pre-screening for a potential early diagnosis.
I had the chance to take a short 5-10 minute break out in front of the clinic on day one of the free clinic to grab a quick bite…we need to stay energized after all… That moment to stop and see what we were really doing that day, and the impact it had was INCREDIBLE! As I stood out front there were over 20 patients and others accompanying them sitting or lying on the grass just waiting to be seen. They all seemed to be looking up at me in my scrubs with eyes of pure appreciation. Many had walked from miles away, some taking two hours just to get to our clinic. I could feel the good we were doing! This was the moment I felt it, this is what MedOutreach is really all about! We are making a difference! We are helping those in need! What an overwhelming, awesome feeling!
I’m sure the weeks to come will bring much more!