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A letter from Barbara Nagy in Malawi

June 2012

Greetings friends,

On crowded days on the Nkhoma pediatrics ward I have been heard to say if we had one more pediatrics admission it might blow the roof off.  Well, we now have the roof blown off the pediatrics ward for an entirely different reason—we are being renovated!  In May we hastily crowded all of our hundred or so admissions into our lower ward, ran over into borrowed space from an adjoining ward, and watched workmen take off the roof and tear down walls in our old ward.  They are expanding the upper ward into two additional spaces, so we hope to gain about 30 beds when all is done, including a small nursery area for newborns admitted from outside our hospital.  We will have a much improved and expanded area for stabilizing and treating new patients as they arrive in waves, with four pods and good lighting as well as big windows that look out onto the rest of the ward, so that our few nurses will be able to see people calling for help.  We will have some isolation rooms for the patients most in need of separation from others—meningitis, cholera, tuberculosis, etc., while most of the patients will stay in a large open ward to facilitate staff being able to see and treat them, especially in case of emergencies.  We will add about eight "high care" beds, an area very close to the nurses where more support equipment will be concentrated, and improve things like sinks for hand-washing and organization of supplies and equipment.  Electrical outlets and ventilation and rooms for on-call clinicians will shortly become a reality, after years of planning and anticipation, with big thanks to a group of churches in Holland that have raised funds for the renovations.  Now we pray daily for the safety of the construction workers, who are working in very challenging conditions, and for no big problems to hamper construction, which must be completed before malaria season starts again in the fall.  It is thrilling to go each day and see the progress that is made, and we thank God for this wonderful help to the care available to children at Nkhoma Hospital.

Earlier this week I also had the opportunity to see the cumulative effect of several years of work as we admitted a baby that was very asphyxiated (did not get enough oxygen) during the birth process, referred to Nkhoma Hospital from a health center.  The child arrived with a new referral form filled out, which directed appropriate care prior to transfer. The nursing staff had completely and well filled out a newborn protocol, fixing several life-threatening problems in an expeditious manner, and the clinician on call was able to make a quick assessment of the child’s status.  Now this baby is doing well, whereas we would likely have had another neonatal death if any one of these safety nets had failed. With continued hard work, including more encouragement to mothers to deliver where births can be attended by skilled workers, we hope to see children like this and neonatal deaths dramatically reduced.  Again, we thank God for the hard work and dedication of many people in this story.

Blessings to all. We appreciate your prayers and support!  I will be starting a Masters in Public Health degree at Emory (Rollins School of Public Health) in August of this year, so please pray for our transition as well as Nkhoma Hospital and pediatrics services in the interim.

Barbara Nagy

Melia, Anna and Happiness

The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 106

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