Here is one update from a colleague and friend of ours, here at the Bongolo Hospital, Renee:
At the end of March there were 7 cases of Covid in Gabon. Now we have 276. It is creeping closer to the Bongolo day by day, and is now in 4 of the 9 provinces of the country. One of the deaths in Libreville was a doctor who was a friend of our Assistant Medical Director. (UPDATE: National news outlets estimate that there will be over 1000 cases of Covid 19 in Gabon by the end of May).
Bongolo Covid Preparedness
(Renee) have been reviewing with the nurses how to put on and take off personal protective equipment (PPE) and how to use our decontamination area. The decontamination area has three parts. After working with patients, the medical personnel will enter the “dirty” side, remove their PPE and scrubs, and put the scrubs in a big bucket of bleach water. The next room is the shower. Finally, the exit is through the “clean” side, where they will put on their clothes from home. Coming to work, the process is the reverse.
I've done several PPE exercises with the nurses. After they fully donned the PPE, I spattered green paint on them to simulate respiratory droplets (I even made some coughing sound effects.)
Then, they had to remove the PPE without getting green/contaminated with Covid. This was a very productive exercise. Despite the eye protection and masks, they still had flecks of paint on their faces.
They realized the importance of the shower in the decontamination area. Today we practiced treating simulated patients wearing PPE.
Meanwhile in the rest of the hospital...
-There was a baby with neonatal tetanus. This is 90% fatal. He was here for a week and half, and was starting to do better, when his grandmother left the hospital with him today to see the witch doctor.
-A one-year-old girl had high fevers and spontaneous bleeding from many parts of her body, even her eyes. She met the case definition for hemorrhagic fever (the group of illnesses like Ebola,) but we will never know the real cause. It's a reminder that God is constantly protecting us from things here even more dangerous than Covid.
-A baby was born at home and came because of severe respiratory destress which did not respond well to CPAP. The home birth was because of economic problems. Despite frequent economic problems, Maternity is currently full to overflowing with women on mattresses on the floor.
- We currently have 5 patients on treatment for Multi-drug resistant and Extensively drug resistant TB. That's the most we have had at one time. I'm thankful they are all currently doing well. One patient has 4 year old twins. I saw them today to make sure they don't have TB, and I'm thankful they don't have MDR-TB. (I put in a picture because they are really cute.)
I (Steve) am thankful for Renee in allowing me to post here stories. These are just some of the stories that are part of life at this mission station where there are over 2 dozen international workers and about 100 local staff helping to care for the physical and spiritual needs of some of those that live in a very remote corner of the world... in the name of Jesus.
Thank you for your prayers!