Engineers for World Health - Just another University of St. Thomas Blogs site
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Beautiful flowers featuring a beautiful country!

In my first blog post in our second month of the program, I told you that we were ready to bloom, and I think after this month I can testify that we have become beautiful flowers because of the fertile soil we were planted into. EWH and Rwamagana have taught us a lot.

I am going to share with you some of our challenges, things that were impactful to me at Rwamagana Hospital, some of the beautiful pictures of my country, and our work.

Let’s start with our work, we have:

  • Fixed one computer AC adapter
  • Repaired a wall socket
  • Replaced 8 light bulbs
  • Changed 4 door locks
  • Fixed one extension cord
  • Replaced a wheel on a cart
  • Fixed and done preventative maintenance on 15 medical devices including: Infant warmers, incubators, x-ray film view box, ultra-sound machines, fetal monitors…
  • Unfortunately, we have abandoned 8 medical devices that we were unable to fix mainly because we did not have the spare part needed or because we did not find a service manual for it.

That leads us into our challenges, we have faced:

  • A lack of appropriate spare parts. There was a long process that our BMETs had to go through to obtain spare parts for equipment they wanted to repair, and since most of the equipment are not found in Rwanda, it was an added challenge for the hospital itself.
  • A lack of service manuals. Sometimes companies and/or organizations who donate or sell hospital equipment do not provide service manuals which makes it hard for BMETs and interns to repair certain models if it is their first time working on them.
  • And, our biggest challenge which is also a blessing for the hospital is that we had 3 BMETs that had worked for the hospital for more than 5 years and one other BMET who sometimes did night rounds. It was a challenge to us because we did not get to touch as many hospital equipment as we thought we would. Our BMETs knew exactly what was wrong with medical devices that were not working, and usually they did not fix it because of lack of spare parts.

Even if our work did not match our expectations, I learned many things from the hospital and the city itself. I was impacted by:

  • The work that BMETs do. I was impressed by the hard work that Biomedical technicians do at hospitals. Since Rwanda is a developing country, we still use oxygen tanks and it is the task of BMETs to distribute oxygen in all departments. Seeing them doing that and then fixing hospital equipment taught me that Impact requires investment.
  • Creativity of the BMETs and nurses. I learned that our Biomedical technician’s experience has taught them that being creative does not require you to have a lot or unlimited resources. For example, not being able to find the right sized fuse, and adding solder to a smaller one with the same specifications to make it the same size as the burnt fuse (did not work because we ended up burning the smaller fuse, but it’s the idea that counts), melting a plastic on the door of an incubator to replace its broken lock (Will be implemented), separating patients’ beds using metal rods and curtains and having a way to remove the separating rods easily, using adhesive bandage to close the doors of an incubator because locks broke and they are no spare parts available to replace them. This taught me that living and/or working in a limited resource environment should never be a reason to abandon your design or a limitation of your ability to create.
  • People in the city. They were so welcoming, humble, nice, and ready to lend us their helping hand when we needed it. I learned that helping does not require you to know a person at a deeper level, and it does not even require having ultimate resources. Helping is an act of the heart! It’s the willingness to be there for somebody who you know might never be there for you.

Now let’s enjoy some of the pictures that show certain regions of Rwanda.

 

This marks the end of my EWH summer institute! thank you very much for reading my blogposts, leaving comments, and for all the support you have given me in these past two months. Continue to enjoy this wonderful summer and have a blessed rest of the year.

View of Muhazi Resort Beach from Rwamagana

 

 

A country of more than a thousand hills.

Ever Green! Yes. View from King Faisal Hospital.

Kigali at night: View from Ubumwe Hotel.

View of lake Kivu from Gisenyi.

View of lake Kivu from Gisenyi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Working out of my comfort and fear zones

This week was our last full week at Rwamagana Hospital, and the most work-filled week we have had so far. One of our BMETs went to a training in Kenya, and the other one broke his leg on Wednesday. So, we only had one BMET that was responsible for everything at the hospital. He challenged us to work in environments and departments we have never worked in.

We repaired an incubator in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and it was our first time to repair something that had not spent at least 2 weeks in the workshop. This incubator was put back in service after nurses cleaned it.

Pascale and Lauren after repairing an incubator in the NICU.

 

 

Usually when there is not a lot of work, our BMETs give us extension cords and laptop chargers to repair.

Gabriella and Pascale repairing a laptop charger.

This week was also marked by us working in the mortuary which was beyond my work expectations. The maintenance department is right near the mortuary, and we passed through many times because it is also a shortcut to reach other departments in the hospital. But we had never entered rooms where dead people are. It was a scaring experience entering the room where mortuary refrigerators are kept, but it forced us to work out of our comfort and fear zones.

My team ready to work in the mortuary.

 

A timer that was not working on one of the refrigerators in the mortuary.

We did not finish repairing the timer because our BMET was called to distribute oxygen to different departments, and wanted us to repair an X-ray viewer for the emergency department.

My team after helping our BMET repair an X-ray viewer.

My team with John (BMET), and the working X-ray viewer.

Also, this week we also changed fluorescent light bulbs in Internal medicine, and change door locks in emergency which gave me the ability to sometimes be my own technician.

Our time in Rwamagana would have not been the same if we would have not met the Swiss nursing students. They became our friends and helped us enjoy our free time even more.

My team with our Swiss friends we met at Rwamagana Hospital.

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Explore days of the week with Pascale!

A view of Rwamagana hospital.

Rwamagana hospital is a relatively large hospital, it has 11 departments where maternity is the busiest. The maintenance department has three Biomedical Equipment technicians (BMETs) that are well trained and organized. Having three interns in the workshop did not help them a lot as we expected since they do not have a large equipment graveyard and they do preventive maintenance often. Instead it helped us learn from them and acquire new skills that we did not learn in our first month of training.

This blog contains some of the activities we did in the past weeks.

Monday

Unfortunately, we were not able to repair the ironing machine, because we did not have coils to replace in the motor to make it work.

Me and Lauren working on an ironing machine.

 

Burnt coils found in the ironing machine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My team repairing knobs of fetal monitors.

Working fetal monitor with a repaired knob.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday

An Electro-Surgery unit we worked on.

Soap we used as a body simulation to test the cut and coagulate probe of the electro-surgery unit.

Ultrasound machine we were unable to repair because it was a software issue and we did not find a service manual for it.

 

 

 

Wednesday

My team ready to clean and organize the workshop.

 

 

 

We sorted tools and organized them according to their use and type.

Some of the drawers we organized.

One of our On The Ground Coordinator, Claire came to visit us at work.

 

 

 

 

Heart of Hope coffee shop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have a tradition to go to a coffee shop (Heart of Hope or Art of Hope coffee shop according to google) that is a 20 min bus drive from our hotel every Wednesday after work for dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

A selfie with our barista, now a friend, in front of the coffee shop. 

 

 

Thursday

My team ready to visit the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

 

 

Our hospital’s Neonatal Intensive care unit.

My team after repairing a VisiChart monitor, and the head of the maintenance department after repairing an Ophthalmoscope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday

Me and Gabby after working on changing a rusted wheel on a cart.

Me and Lauren soldering wires of an extension cord.

 

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Started from germination and growth, but we are now ready to bloom!

For the last two weeks of training we visited King Faisal hospital and Muhima hospital. I was so excited to visit King Faisal hospital because it is one of the best and well equipped hospitals in Rwanda. When we went there we did not expect to find many equipment to work on, but surprisingly the eight of us that went there repaired six equipment that were then put back on the floor.

Pascale (Me) and Lauren checking the brightness of a medical lamp we repaired.

Cannon, Alex, and Maya repairing a suction machine.

EWH team after their visit at King Faisal hospital.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Muhima hospital, we did not repair many equipment because they required spare parts
that we did not have access to. We repaired bladders of two cuffs that were
malfunctioning due to leakage.

Gabriella and Patience testing to see if the blood pressure machine was giving the correct readings.

EWH team and their instructor Dr. Moreno in front of Muhima hospital.

We also visited Agahozo Shalom youth village which is a non-profit whose aim is to
provide vulnerable and orphaned youth with necessary healing and education. We built
an ECG simulator with some of the students, and each one got to keep it.

Agahozo Shalom students soldering parts of their ECG simulator on the circuit
board.

During the final week of training we organized an EWH championship where we split
into two teams and played football.

EWH students after their football championship

The sad part is always when you have to say goodbye to the people you spent time with
even when you are going to see each other after a month or less!

On the ground coordinators, a friendship sister, EWH students, and IPRC
students before going to their assigned hospital placement

My team on the first day of work at Rwamagana hospital ready to apply all the knowledge acquired during training.

This past week we started working as volunteer biomedical technicians in the
maintenance department of Rwamagana hospital. The staff of the hospital that we have
met so far is so friendly and welcoming. We got to know that the biomedical technicians
there do not only work on biomedical equipment, but are also responsible for distributing
oxygen, repairing doors, and changing lamps. It was helpful to work with one of the
biomedical technicians for half a day because we got to learn all of those skills.

One of the biomedical technicians, Baptiste, showing us how to do preventive maintenance of a suction machine

Some of us started in seed form not knowing many names of hospital equipment, but we
germinated and grew, and we are now ready to bloom and make an impact at our
assigned hospital placements!

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Dreams really do come true!

In January 2017, my brother got hospitalized at CHUK (University Teaching Hospital of Kigali), and I remember passing by the maintenance department and thinking to myself, “I wish I could work here, and repair hospital equipment.” Dreams always become true, you do not have to have a dream for 10 years for it to be realized, even a one-minute thought can become an amazing reality.

Pascale (Me) humbled and excited to start working on hospital equipment at CHUK.

The entirety of my one-minute thought became a reality. I not only worked at CHUK in the maintenance department, but also me and my partners repaired a nebulizer.

Pascale, Gabriella, and Lauren after repairing a nebulizer at CHUK.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was also my first time to go on a Safari at Akagera national park; I was thrilled to see more beauty that my country holds especially now that Rwanda has introduced the big five animals back (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo).

First elephant we saw close to the main road.

Discovered that Zebras are black with white stripes.

EWH girls at the entrance of Akagera National Park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s only been a week, but…

These people have been a blessing to me so far in my experience.

EWH students, on the ground coordinators, and IPRC students.

Seniors majoring in biomedical engineering from IPRC, the school where our classes are held joined us so that they can learn more English and help non-Kinyarwanda speakers practice using the language. IPRC students also help us in labs because they have already covered most of the material that we are going to learn in this first month of training.

 

 

 

Two EWH students and two IPRC students working on an oxygen concentrator.

Thursday this week we visited Kibagabaga hospital in Kigali where we worked on different medical devices with a goal of fixing them or identifying the main problems that caused them not to function. At first, it was a daunting experience for me because I had never worked on a medical device, and I

thought that the two days we had of training before visiting the hospital were not enough. But, I was mistaken because as we opened our oxygen concentrator and analyzed the circuits and other parts to check if they were functioning properly, I started feeling more comfortable and confident that we could be able to fix it. Unfortunately, we could not fix it because it had many missing inside parts that we did not have replacement for, and its zeolite tanks had expired.

 

 

As a mechanical engineering major, I have not yet made an extension cord in any of my lab classes. So, I was so happy when we plugged in ours and it worked. I learned a lot about continuity, ground, live, and neutral.

My lab team working on an extension cord.

Sunset in Kigali viewed from ICT Innovation center’s rooftop.

 

 

 

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Meet Pascale!

Just one big idea. One big idea and we can change the world.

Pascale Kunda

Pascale Kunda, a sophomore Mechanical Engineering major at UST plans to do great things this summer in her home country of Rwanda. As a global student, Pascale hopes to embrace global learning opportunities and make a difference by working on hospital equipment through the Engineers for World Health program. In addition to the abundant amount of learning opportunities she will experience, Pascale will reunite with her family and home country.

To follow her unique experience, be sure to follow this website where Pascale will highlight her adventures to come!