The Rural Health Services division of Nazarene Health Ministries is responsible for staffing, supplying, and supporting two remote health centers in PNG: Imane and Sangapi. Now when I say remote, I mean the ends of the earth. Imane and Sangapi are located in what we call "the big bush." There are no roads between these health centers and the outside world. Medical supplies, staff, and emergency referrals travel in and out by plane. When there are no flights available, people have to walk several days to get to a road that will take them anywhere. For example, Imane is located in Morobe Province. Lae is the nearest big city with medical facilities. To get to Lae, one must walk 2 days to the main road, and the catch a bus into town. Imagine doing this if you were sick or injured. Or pregnant...
Catherine is the wife of the Nazarene pastor at Imane. She was nearing her 9th month of pregnancy. She had c-sections for her first and second pregnancy, and needed to have a repeat c-section for her third. There just happened to be a plane coming to Imane to fly out the coffee harvest. Well, things got a bit complicated with the plane. Due to recent heavy rains, the propeller got stuck in the mud. The pilot radioed his base, and a helicopter was sent to the rescue. Catherine and her husband Billy decided to hitch a ride. The helicopter took them as far as Goroka. They caught a bus and traveled 3 more hours down the horribly bumpy Highlands Highway to Kudjip. When Catherine arrived, she was evaluated by Dr. Bill in the outpatient department. An ultrasound was done to confirm she really was 9 months. But Dr. Bill found something else on the scan--placenta previa. This medical talk translates to "placenta first"; the placenta was covering her cervix. If Catherine had gone into labor back at Imane, she would have bled to death before ever reaching a hospital. Thank the Lord for bringing to Kudjip! The following day Dr. Jim did a repeat c-section. She did a little more bleeding than usual and needed a transfusion, but overall did well. Mama and baby did VERY well considering the alternative scenario. Ten days after their arrival, Catherine and Billy and their new little bundle of joy were headed back to the big bush. They didn't think they would be so lucky to catch a plane ride back home. Instead they will take public transportation 10 hours over the bumpy road toward Lae. They are going to visit friends for a few days, and then hike back to Imane. Being that mom just had major surgery, they plan to take the walk slow and easy. WOW, what a woman!
Sanguo is a member of Catherine and Billy's church. She was also pregnant, only about 7 months. Her water had broken just around the time that the plane landed at Imane. Concerned about their church member and her baby, her pastors brought her with them to Kudjip. Ultrasound showed that Sanguo was only about 31 weeks pregnant (40 weeks was full term). The baby was too small, and on the edge of survival for PNG. We started mother on antibiotics and gave her steroids to help the baby's lungs mature more rapidly. I also diagnosed her with tuberculosis. TB medicines will help her live longer and stronger, and also protect the baby from getting sick. Two days later Sanguo went into labor and delivered her baby. He weighed just 1800 grams, thankfully bigger than I had estimated on scan. The baby was admitted to the nursery for oxygen antibiotics and supplement feeds. Slowly but surely he has been growing. Last week we celebrated his 2000 gram party! And soon he and his mama will be on their way home.
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
~ Acts 1:8
This is probably a good time to put in a plug for the new Nazarene Health Ministries web site. There are links to Nazarene Hospital, College of Nursing Community Based Health Care, and Rural Health Services. The site gives some basic info about each division, recent news, and information on how to get involved and support the ministries. Check it out!