Wednesday, 13 February 2008

HCS Open House...

Over the past few days our hospital has been getting back into the swing of things, as the wards and operating theatres are prepared for an influx of patients. Late on Friday evening we had a group of thirty new crew members arrive - all on the same flight - and perhaps 90% of these were ward nurses. It was a very late night for Reception. I only got to bed at a little before 02h00. But it was great to see the enthusiasm of these new nurses.

I actually found myself in need of medical attention on Sunday afternoon. I was meant to go to CC Beach with a group of Mercy Shippers, but I cut my pinkie finger ten minutes before they left.

It was silly, really. I thought it would be fun to take some tennis balls (for playing beach cricket, as any proud South African does when on the beach), and so was in the process of opening the tin of brand-new tennis balls, when I sliced my finger. It was a plastic bottle, but had a metal top like a sardine tin. And the metal was sharp. I panicked and paged the Duty Nurse (the blood was flowing) and went to the Crew Clinic. The blood only eased up after twenty minutes. And while she was dressing the cut I suddenly felt light-headed and faint. So I sat down for a while, with my head between my knees. I hadn't cut myself for a long time, and so it was probably the shock. I was also trembling. When I eventually returned to my cabin (having missed my trip to the beach) there were drops of blood in the bathroom, on my desk, and on the wall. So much blood from so small a cut.

But it highlighted to me the importance of health care, and it was somewhat fitting that Monday evening saw the HCS (Health Care Services) Open House. The Hospital on Deck 3 was open to all crew members. It was really interesting to be able to walk through the wards and operating theatres and to see what our ward nurses and doctors do. They are such a blessing to so many people. At each theatre and ward there were various activities with which one could get involved, such as dressing up as surgeons and patients (and having one's photo taken), learning how to suture, or even having an ultrasound done! In fact, one could dress up as a ward nurse and experience the pressures of their job. As I entered this ward, I commented to Liz, one of my friends, "Well, I'm breaking stereotypes being the only guy in Reception. Might as well do it in nursing as well!" One could also sign up to adopt a patient on the ward. Crew members are encouraged to do this, as it allows one an opportunity to make friends with - and bring joy to - a sick child or a crippled man. There were also sign-up sheets for blood donation. The M/V Africa Mercy has nearly 400 crew, and thus crew members are an excellent source of fresh, healthy blood. One could also learn CPR - 30 compressions to 2 breaths, at a rate of 100 compressions a minute. It was certainly an eye-opener to see all the hardwork that HCS do.

Throughout the whole HCS Open House it was great to see how professional and passionate the Health Care Services staff are, and how well-equipped the M/V Africa Mercy hospital is. We are truly blessed.

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