“If I Go to the Hospital, I Will Die”

The longer I live in Papua, the more I realize that this is how the local people view their local hospital.  Not as a place of hope and healing, but as a death sentence.  They would rather stay at home, and die there, than risk going somewhere where they know so many die.
Honestly, I don’t blame them.  I have stood in their emergency room for hours.  Recently it was for a boy, age 11, who had fallen out of a tree and fractured his leg.  Well, the x-ray department was closed because it was Sunday, so that was not confirmed.  However, his intense pain level upon any movement and the swelling were quite strong indications.
  It took 3 hours to get his perfectly fine wooden splint taken off and a cardboard cast made instead, a mild sedative given that didn’t touch his pain and for me to arrange a taxi to another hospital where they could help him.  Meanwhile I witnessed so much suffering and crude medical care, I am still overwhelmed and without words to describe it.  I could try.  If you don’t want to know, skip the next paragraph.
3 different head injuries.  I couldn’t tell if they were beaten or face down motor cycle accidents.  All 3 were intensely bad.  One went into respiratory distress, out in the hall way on a crude dirty stretcher.  There was no intubation or ventilator available, just a make shift airway….shoved in his mouth.  I cringed with every heaving chest breath.  Another lady needed to have a nasal gastric tube placed.  To offer privacy in the open bed emergency room, a tiny partition curtain was wheeled into place.  Offering privacy from only one angle.  The drug cart is so filthy from years of spilled meds.  Boxes of trash are stacked around.  Police are called in to deal with some domestic violence case. 

Amidst the suffering, there is refreshment.  The young female doctor is kind and genuinely concerned.  She moves from case to case, doing the best she can.  She tells me that she has almost finished a year and can leave and go back to Jakarta.  However, her desire is to keep working here.  The man at a little desk outside was so helpful to me.  Its the first time I have seen this “service”.  He found me a stretcher and let me park under the covered entrance way while we transferred our patient. 
This “scared of the hospital” mentality is what is inspiring some new local clinics.  The GIDI seminary has realized that amongst their students there is a need for healthcare.  Some of their own students in town were dying because of the lack of trust in the local hospital system.  Just last Friday, we celebrated the opening of their new clinic. 
All of this understanding and having 3 nurses who are anxious to put their skills to work, made us consider if the SDA school next door could use a clinic.  I think we all had visions of just a tiny room and small commitment.  We spent several weeks, a few afternoons a week, doing felt need assessments.  It became clear very quickly that with over 600+ students on the campus daily and over 180 students in the dorm, that help is needed.  The staff have not near enough time or resources to be running kids around for health assessments or even basic comfort care when they are running fevers or have wounds, rashes, sprains, etc. 
Unbelievably, a large new building is being erected for this clinic. A young energetic Papua female doctor has volunteered to sponsor the clinic with her license, without us even asking her.  Our expatriate dentist and his group is willing to be involved. 
I’m just standing back and shaking my head…..wondering if I’m ready for this ride???!  Yet, it has picked up and gained speed at an unbelievable pace and is happening before my eyes.IMG_20161116_125208IMG_20161202_103217
Our goal is to involve young Papuan students who have a desire to be medical workers in their villages and mentor them.  Along with building a team of Indonesian doctors and nurses who are willing to volunteer their time, not only locally but perhaps in the far places also.  We will still need to use the local hospitals, but hopefully this will be a stepping stone and prevent many serious cases, that with early intervention, can eliminate the need to go.  Also hopefully we can help teach good basic healthcare principles that can impact future hospital workers. 
Please pray for WISDOM for us as we move forward.    And courage.  And language growth and understanding.  And good boundaries.  And health and healing to a people who deserve, just that.  I never dreamed that I would be involved in setting something up like this and yet it has all been handed to me like a package of bulbs, waiting to be planted so that they can spring to life.  Life, not fear of death, that is our dream.
Assessing a seminary student in his dorm room.


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