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Published: February 17th 2015
February 16, 2015 (Masiphulo, Swaziland) It was cooler when we got up early today to participate (more like observe) the logistics of the mobile hospital setup before the clinics start. A 5:00 am start and we were off to the main campus where the caravan of trucks, trailers, vans and cars was already forming. We were going to Masiphulo, at the southern most border of Swaziland about two hours away to run another clinic in the school there and seeing some 700-800 patients. As mentioned before, there are nine stations that must be set up from registration to surgery and laboratory.
We left driving through an hour and a half of some of Swaziland’s really scenic valleys and rolling hills. The sun was rising as we left, so the colors and textures of the landscape were unusually rich. I rode with some of the nurses to work on the surgical unit plans and begin planning how cataract surgery might be done. Jeff rode with the big truck, riding in the jump seat. Taylor drove with one of the managers in the large van.
When we arrived at the school, there was plenty of action already. Long queues of patients
were sitting on the grass and gravel waiting for the activities to start. School children from five different schools began arriving – each in their own colored uniforms of red, blue, black, gray and khaki. There were a lot of kids there…then there were more and more. The kids were separated by gender and the girls further separated by age under 12, 12 and older. During the early part of the morning, the TLC teams were setting up the nine individual stations while some of them begin patient education sessions.
Jeff, Taylor and I followed Melody around. Melody is a nurse who also helps coordinate the logistics of field set up. She’s good at it probably because she loves the variety of the tasks and skills it takes to make it all come together. Trucks and vans were systematically unloaded to their designated locations. Perhaps the longest set up was the surgery area, where a classroom is cleaned out, washed down with bleach and 11 bays set up for patients. The main surgical procedure performed is male circumcision (MC) on pre teen boys. This is a procedure that dramatically (up to 60%) reduces transmission of the HIV virus and
The team rallies for singing and prayer before heading out.
has become a mainstay of HIV control here. TLC has the most successful recruitment and participation program of any government or NGO in the area.
After set up is done the system begins to chug into action. Station 1 (Registration) is the most important to get rolling as it is the prime for the remaining areas. Station 2 (Laboratory) is the initial check in including blood workup with HIV testing. My station (#9) was next – it is the eye screening station, where we screen symptomatic patients as well as asymptomatic patients over age 40 (for reading glasses). Activities there included vision testing (Tumbling E), pupil exam, penlight anterior segment exam and red reflex testing. We found a large number of cataract patients with vision worse than 20/70 – many of them bilaterally blinded from cataract.
Jeff and Taylor spent a significant amount of time in the shoe station, handing out new shoes to school aged children: measuring, fitting and giving the shoes. At one point, the line was several hundred children deep, but they all were shoed.
After a seemingly never ending queue, my eye care queue finally dried up as the sun was setting and
From the TLC Campus
the ambient lighting made reading the eye chart pretty difficult. We packed in for the long trip home, stopped by the local restaurant for dinner and promptly crashed – ready for another early morning tomorrow!
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