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medical volunteering in nepal

Ingeborg Kvammen

Norway

Repairing the medical equipments at Gorkha District Hospital

Hi,

this is Ingeborg writing. I have now reached my hospital in Gorkha, a small city west of Kathmandu. The hospital is a district hospital with OPD and emergency room, in addition to maternity, family planning and ultrasound, tuberculoses, lab and x-ray departments.

Me and my partner in repairing, Silje, arrived in Gorkha on Sunday. Monday was our first day here, and they welcomed us  with flowers and blessings. Thanks to the hard work by last years students the hospital already had some trust in us. After a tour of all the departments we were impressed by the staff and especially the leaders of each department. All of them eager to make the best out what they had, and also wanted to show us the equipment that was not working properly and tell us about their needs. We hope that during our stay here we can repair some of it!

Until now we have made an inventory list of all the equipment we have found in the hospital. But there are equipment and other donations in the most random and hidden places, so it is hard to get a complete overview. Even though we have a rough list now, this will be something to work on during our whole stay.

The first department to reach out to us, was the Lab. Their biochemical analyzer had not worked in two weeks, which forced them to use more time-consuming methods. Well, when we plugged it in, it turned on. All off a sudden it was working, which was nice, since they are quite complicated and we have not been working with that kind of equipment.

In the Emergency Room they had some broken blood pressure cuffs and thermometers, which we have already repaired. They also had a oxygen concentrator with no flow, which we tried to repair yesterday. Guess what? We made it work again ?

In our workshop we have a centrifuge right now, but it is hard to troubleshoot with out the right tools. We have to be creative and find our inner MacGyver, but some things are beyond our abilities.

Right now our biggest challenge is the language. Even though we have had quite an intensive language course, it is really hard to understand and to be understood. When we did the inventory list, Laxman, one of our “on the ground coordinators”, were here with us. In addition to be a very talented biomedical engineer, he is also Nepali, and were able to help us a lot. A few of the doctors knows English, but the maintenance staff and nurses speaks only Nepali. Therefore, we are trying to study as much as we can in the evenings.

I am excited to see what these weeks will bring, and I am sure it will be a memorable experience.

Beautiful Gorkha with Himalayas in the back.

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