Africa Outreach: The Team Arrives in Uganda

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


This guest post is from Children’s National's Melissa Jones, a nurse practitioner specializing in Cardiac Surgery. She is one of many members of our Cardiology team who are in Uganda.

After a long journey from Washington, DC, our team arrived to Entebbe International Airport late Friday night. We loaded one bus with our 37 boxes of supplies and luggage; and the team boarded a separate bus headed for Kampala, the final leg of our trip.

Saturday morning, we spent the day with our Ugandan colleagues setting up the operating room, the cardiac catheterization lab, and the intensive care units (ICU). The cardiologists began to screen patients, performing 35 echocardiograms and counseling families about their child’s heart condition.

Then on Sunday, our team met with our Ugandan colleagues to review echocardiograms of each surgical and catheterization patient and to discuss the schedule for the week.

Monday, we successfully completed three diagnostic cardiac catheterizations. One catheterization patient, Edgar, a 10 year old with a large hole between the lower chambers in his heart was anxious while awaiting his catheterization and wouldn’t utter a word to anyone on our team. He tolerated his catheterization very well and recovered quickly. After just a few hours of observation in the ICU, he was playing with toys, talking, and smiling.

Another patient, 3-year-old Immaculate, awoke from anesthesia after her catheterization asking for tea and her mother was able to quickly provide it for her. Unlike at home, the hospital here does not provide food service for patients, so when a patient is ready to begin eating after a procedure, families bring their own food in for the children.

It’s not unusual, while the children recover in the ICU, to see parents, siblings, and sometimes extended families wait on the ward. They lay blankets on the floor and eat together with other families It’s different from what we’re used to in the states, where our patients and families have private rooms, but the bond between these families is strong, and it’s a great experience to be a part of.

It’s been a busy few days, but we’re focused on helping take care of these kids, which helps get us through.

Do you have any questions for the team about their work in Uganda?


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