Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Excess of Access?

Today I make this blog entry from MURHEC (Mbarara University Referral Hospital Eye Center).  This is Tuesday afternoon, but our patients started arriving on Sunday, shortly after lunch.  We had 50 patients from Ishaka and Bwambara arrive on Sunday and another 16 from Rukungiri yesterday.  

On Monday, we were able to examine all of the patients and complete 18 cataract surgeries.  

It was a long day as we finally got done about 7:30pm.  It was all worth it when, this morning, the eye patches were removed, and there were 18 happy patients! 

Today, we have completed all of the 18 post op exams and taken in an additional 14 patients from Rukungiri.  The operating room has been humming.  They are not done yet, but there were 32 operations scheduled for today.  I suspect that we will have about 25 surgeries on Wednesday.  Five of those surgeries will be children under general anesthesia.  One of those will be Phiona.  Phiona is a six year old girl that I mentioned in a blog after we had been to Bwambara.  She is a beautiful girl with a huge smile.  I have some initial good news.  After being concerned that she might have a cancer that was causing her L eye to protrude, it is now felt to be related to a hemangioma.  A hemangioma is a collection of blood vessels that form a tumor, but it is non-malignant and can usually be treated with medicine.  Her procedure tomorrow will be to take biopsies to confirm the hemangioma diagnosis.  Please keep her in your prayers and I will let you know when I hear biopsy results.

When our team was in SW Uganda in December of 2015, we were surprised to find out that there was only one functional CT scanner in the that whole section of the country.  That scanner was at a local private hospital.  The scans were not horribly expensive, but really not accessible for most Ugandans in this region.  Then when we arrived on this trip, we found out that the functional CT scanner was no longer functioning!  So the closest place to get a test, that we consider routine, is a 5 hour drive away.  The CT scanner in the government hospital remains broken and I understand that they are in a dispute with the person they bought the machine from about who should pay to fix it.  Meanwhile, many physicians are trying to care for patients in a way that has not been required in some time. 

This whole scenario of helping people get eye services and the trouble with the CT scanners got me thinking about how we, in the US, have an Excess of Access to medical care.  We can get x-rays, labs, ultrasounds, CT scans, MRIs, etc. just about any day of the week.  To that end, our medical business is built around convenient access to medical care.  We as medical patients/consumers have almost grown to expect this convenient access.  I don’t guess that I have any great nuggets of wisdom regarding this issue except that I encourage you not to take the medical care and the access to it for granted it.  It is truly a blessing that we have as Americans. 
I think that we will be busy here at least through Thursday and possibly into Friday. 
Just a glimpse ahead.  We will be heading to Jinja on Sunday after church.  We will go to Jamil’s village of Pallisa on Monday for a school screening and then host a general medical clinic in our friend, Pastor Henry’s, church on Tuesday.

We will keep you informed of how things are going.

This is what we Due!