Screening day began at 3:45am for me. Breakfast was served from 3:30am and I was up there by 4am getting a small bite to eat before meeting some of my team and my driver in the cafe area of the ship. We excitedly left the ship by 4:30am in a convoy of Landrovers, driving through the silent streets. There was some chatter in my Landrover, but I knew most of the nurses minds were dwelling on the possibilities of what the day would bring. Most of them had never been at a screening day before or even worked in the hospital on the M/V Africa Mercy. My only experience of a screening day was the first blog I ever posted in Febuary 2011. It was an eye opening experience for the desperation in the hearts of the people in West Africa. I hoped and prayed for this day to be much calmer and organised.
As I looked out the window at the few people walking in the dark on the streets before 5am, I thought about my position for the day. This screening day I had been given the responsibility of Team Leader of the History Station. At this station we would take the patient’s observations, weight and asked them a series of medical health questions. My team had 14 nurses and 14 day volunteers to translate everything we needed to ask.
When we arrived to the screening site, I gathered my nurses together and we walked to our station. The most important thing to me was that we would first commit our day to God and ask for his blessing and that we would work with his strength and not our own.
The History station was situated in an under pass, under the stadium seats, with a tunnel for the breeze to blow through and a corridor to the left for the patients to be escorted down to their surgery specialty area. I had been to the stadium where the screening was the afternoon before to set up our area and help out. We had 7 long tables, with space for a nurse, patient and translator at the end of each table and vital signs equipment in the middle to share. We had about 80 chairs set out for the patients to wait in.
The sun was still not up and we were walking around by the light of our flashlights, but I gathered the nurses together and went through a few details for the day. I was sent my team of translators and just as we were finished setting everything up, our first patient came through at 5:30am! Within about 20 minutes the pre-screeners and registration sent through enough patients to fill all of our chairs!
For the next 10 ½ hours my nurses and translators worked tirelessly taking histories and vital signs on more than 1,000 patients!!!! I walked around answering questions from the nurses and translators, sorting out problems, keeping the patient flow going, weighing the babies, picking up the rubbish blown by the beautiful breeze off the tables, finding caregivers for patients who came without them, restocking the tables with whatever was running out, then adding 4 more tables and explaining to 8 new nurses and translators how this station was run and what to do.
We had an amazing team of escorts bringing in only enough patients to fill all of the chairs and then more escorting patients to their specialty area when they were finished with us. When the general surgery room was full, our escorts would pick out the plastic surgery and maxilla facial surgery candidates from the crowd, sitting waiting patiently.
By about 10:30am the line outside the stadium was closed to more people coming. By about 1:30am the line was completely inside the stadium and there was an end in sight! Then by 3pm registration, the station sending us patients finished their work. Finally we could really see the end in sight! By 4pm every history, of every patient had been taken.
I can’t explain how extremely proud I was of my amazing team who worked so tirelessly screening history on patient after patient. During the day we had had 1,660 people come through the gate, some were told sorry and taken to the prayer station but the rest that could possibly have a surgery were taken through to us.
What an amazing day! Praise the Lord for the peace and orderly way the patients waited, for the great organisation of every station and the amazing team work by all.