So tomorrow marks one of the most exciting days in my career, and probably one of the most humbling.
Tomorrow is Screening Day for the m/v Africa Mercy in the Republic of Congo. We don't know exactly how many people will show up, but they've probably already started lining up for tomorrow. Last year there were about 4300 patients that came through the line, and the Congo has advertised this day much more than other countries have. About 840 patients were selected to proceed to the next step - which meant they were highly likely to have surgery of some sort.
Registration will begin at 6 am. Prospective patients will be screen from the get go to see if they would be a surgical candidate before even getting to the surgeons' stations, as Mercy Ships is very specialized with what types of surgeries they provide. In an effort to provide excellent care, they focus on max-fax, pediatric orthopedics, plastics (lots of contracture releases), VVF (women's health), cataract removal, and some general surgeries such as hernia repairs and goiter removals. So unfortunately many people will not be able to be helped by us. That is the scary/sad thing about screening day.
The exciting thing is that many people will be helped. I mostly know about plastics and orthopedics since those are the heavy therapy related areas. About 85+ plastics patients for the fall and a like number for the spring will be helped, as well as approximately an equal number of orthopedic patients (I think the specifics were 85-110 pts based on what types of surgeries/time requirements would be needed). Thousands of cataracts will be removed, and many many facial surgeries will be performed. The exciting thing is getting to see patients before these surgeries and rehab takes place. I am so blessed this year to get to be here for this, but also til the end of the field service to see the outcomes. Last year I got just a taste of it which left me hungry for more... :)
So what will screening day entail? Well, for me, I will be ready to go by 6:30 am (since I'm not in registration I won't need to be there right away), and should be in my station by 7 am. I will be with Nick, my boss, and Laura, admissions nurse, and Melinda, the orthopedic team leader. Our orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Frank, will arrive in October about a week before the ortho surgeries start and rescreen the patients that we thought would be good candidates for surgery to make sure he agrees.
Our other 2 therapists, Erin and Robyn, will be with the plastics team to help determine who may be a good candidate for plastics surgeries, mainly upper limb stuff, but perhaps some lower limb and neck would also be more heavily therapy invested.
We will try to take measurements (ROM, functional scores) on prospective patients that would likely have surgery, and basically go for as long as it takes to go through the line. If it's extremely late and the line is still long, we may have people come to the ship over the next couple days for their screening.
We will have PB sandwiches for lunch. :) I think I'm going to pack an apple and a couple bars as well.
Thankfully we will be inside for this, and our translators will be our dayworkers: Bob, Mike, and another I haven't yet met, but who is probably switching into housekeeping. Bob is trying to teach us 1 of the 2 local languages...my jet lagged brain has unfortunately only learned "hello" so far: M'bote.
Prospective patients will also be given the opportunity to be prayed with, and as Mike our dayworker said, God might heal them right there. How awesome would that be?! Sometimes because I am in healthcare I rely on the knowledge of what happens with medicine, surgery, etc, but God can work in the midst of that, or He can astound us by doing something we don't expect. I would love to be able to tell a 'post-Selection Day' story of how God healed someone that we couldn't help via surgery.
Which leads me to ask - will you pray for us tomorrow and the next couple days? Pray for wisdom in decision making - there are limited surgery spots - as well as compassion and love for each and every person we interact with - be it our team or a prospective patient or caregiver. It will be a long day...pray for endurance, sanity, and good attitudes. Most of all, please pray that God will be glorified. That He will make himself known to us and to the patients. That we would be in awe of the Creator.
Thank you!! :)