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.