We approached the hospital with no real expectations. After previous disappointing encounters it’s best not to set the bar too high. High heights to fall from. We went that morning to attempt to evaluate a training course in neonatal resuscitation. The three day course took place 3 months before, led by Nurses from Mercy Ships for Midwives and Neonatal Specialist Nurses in Adolphe-Sicé Hospital, Congo. The subject is definitely not my strong point. I’m trained as an Adult ICU nurse with some A&E experience. But I tagged along with a new hat on. As from August I will have a new title; Clinical Ward Educator. As I am moving into my new job, I went to observe and attempt to learn more about assessment and evaluation in the work place. In the Congolese work place, it’s a little bit different.
We walked up to the hospital hoping that the current Clinical Ward Educator, Hannah, would be recognised and be let in. Luckily the guard unlocked the gate and welcomed us in to the shiny white hospital. We walked up the stairs and entered the neonatal unit to be met by one smiley Mamma. She not only recognised Hannah but threw her arms around her and did the two kissy thing on the cheek (French left overs). We all followed suit and were welcomed in to the unit. Another Nurse greeted Hannah and agreed to answer some questions. We started with our first question:
“How have you found the course material… have you been able to put it in to practice?”
The nurse became animated as she cut of the end of the question to respond.
“Of course, look at that baby there, it was born this morning and it was dead. Now it is alive because of that training! We resuscitated it like you told us!
We were all a little taken aback and that funny inexplicable thing happened when all the hairs stand up on end and you feel a little choked. The next question was about the ambu bag (resuscitation mask); we realised that a lot of the units had one (albeit old) but some didn’t keep them close by. They would be under lock and key to be kept safe and no one really knew how to use them. They were encouraged on the course to use them, shown how and given lots of practice. Hannah asked “did you use the bag and where is it?” The nurse responded “of course, it’s next to the baby incase we need it again!”
And at that moment in my head as I stared at that little baby with it’s quick little breaths and beautiful black fuzzy hair, lying quietly beside a mask… some fat ladies started singing hallelujah inside my head in perfect harmony.
We had impacted something!
We talked to some other nurses across two different units and they all gave the same feedback, they remembered all the information, used it and taught it to their colleagues. And they really did because people showed us how to resuscitate a neonatal baby that weren’t even on the course.
We walked out of that place shocked and to be honest I was slightly ashamed of my original low expectations. The boss lady said they had had fewer deaths since we delivered the training. Amazing.
During the next field service I will be taking over Hannah’s job so I will be running programs for local nurses from Benin (our next destination from Aug 2014- June 2015) It will be a 6 week program where nurses come and work on the ship, learn in the classroom and build relationships at the same time. I will also be organising some day courses and short courses like this one. I’m so excited to teach and learn from the nurses there that I haven’t even met and now, after today, I am expectant not just optimistic.
Expectant of what we can achieve.
Expectant of what we can learn.
Expectant of what will change.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” Nelson Mandela
“Wealth, if you use it, comes to an end; learning, if you use it, increases”~Swahili proverb
Some pictures from the last group who participated in the Mercy Ships education program.