(Written 12-2-09 but because of technical difficulties, published today!)
This time next week I’ll be on a plane headed to DC. What – CRAZY!? Seems strange to know I’ll suddenly be on the other side of the world next week.
My plans at the hospital have all gone better than I expected which is such a blessing and an answer to prayer. I did surveys at the Newborn/Immunization Clinics and ended up with 50 completed surveys. I gave each woman a banana bread muffin after filling out the survey. (I think I’ve forgotten to mention that I make banana bread ALL THE TIME here. Nigerians don’t eat many sweet things so there’s nothing like banana bread around here. I am even selling it now to staff at the hospital and sometimes to the university cafeteria. Michael Higdon – Miss Butterscotch lives on in Nigeria!) The surveys asked about how the mothers felt about their prenatal care, prenatal teaching, care on the labor ward, understanding of care provided, and care of their baby. It also asked them how well they felt they handled their labor and delivery and gave them opportunities to say what they thought should be different about their care. I think the whole thing was really a new concept for the patients and the staff. But I think it really helped me make suggestions that took into account the culture and needs of the patients (as opposed to how I would change things from an American perspective). I also hope that it brought more validity to my suggestions in the eyes of the staff. It was so precious to be able to go to the clinics again and see all the mommas and babies! My heart felt so full at those clinics – so much of what brings me joy and drives me to do what I’m doing is right there. May I just say that the women and the babies here are beautiful!
I met with the Chief Matron and Labor Ward Matron (head nurses) last Wednesday concerning my suggestions for changes to practices on the labor ward. The three changes included: allowing women to move about as they like during first stage labor, delaying the clamping of the cord to allow for increased blood flow to the infant (and calm the now-hurried birth process), and give only light suctioning instead of deep suctioning to every infant after birth (again, to calm the now-hurried birth process). They were, for the most part, accepting of my suggestions although I don’t think they saw much benefit in delaying the clamping of the cord. But they were both really sweet and encouraging as they said they enjoyed my time here, felt like I blended well with the staff, and stayed busy while I was here. They also said they really hoped I would come back and that I should marry a Nigerian (everyone here is rooting for that one)!
Then I was given the opportunity to present my thoughts at a meeting for all the nurses at the hospital on Friday. I presented the results of my survey first. The results of the survey were actually pretty positive. Most patients knew that staff cared for them and felt they were “trying” (working hard) for them. Most of the suggestions for change were based on the fact that antenatal clinic should be shorter (right now it takes about 4 hours). The high point was on antenatal teaching – the women really love this part of clinic so I tried to use that to encourage staff to use every opportunity for education. The low point was on understanding what was happening on the labor ward so I again tried to encourage the staff to educate on the labor process in clinic and on the ward. Other things the women said included that staff should not be shouting at them and that husbands should be allowed back in the labor ward. I then presented my research on the three practices I suggested they change. I was able to find recent research articles online through my school library that helped me support my suggestions.
I felt like the presentation was well received by the staff. We had some time for discussion at the end and a few nurses had some concerns about husbands being allowed in the labor room and delaying the clamping of the cord and suctioning of the baby. But I felt like we were able to have a good discussion and come to good conclusions. Thankfully, I also felt like I was able to communicate clearly during my presentation. The last thing I wanted was for staff to struggle to understand me the entire time!
So, I feel like my experience at the hospital has been a really positive one. I know I have learned a lot and I am grateful to have been a part of the Faith Mediplex family and the lives of the patients. I’m not sure how I am going to say goodbye.