The first procedure was to remove some wires from a previously repaired elbow of a young man. The second was the removal of the painfully deteriorated head of the femur of a strong 60 yr old Masai. (In the US this would have been replaced with a new metal hip joint which is not possible here – yet). He will have one shorter leg compensated for with a thicker shoe. The third scheduled case was a baby with clubbed feet. This patient did not show up, either due to the muddy roads during this severe rainy season or the inability on this day to come up with the about $60 cost for the procedure. These cases highlight some of the differences between health care here vs the developed world.
The building, equipping, and actualizing of the Machame Ortho Center has been the biggest project in the Alegent / Tanzania relationship. Those following the progress know there have been many challenges and plenty of discouraging events which we have had to be overcome to reach this day. So it it a major milepost of success. In Africa a birth also means the beginning of serious challenges to life and I am not expecting the challenges to lessen. We face significant nursing staff shortages and have many other threats to ongoing operations. But, even in Africa a birth is a time for celebration, so we take a moment to do so and thank those who made it possible.
At Alegent I would like to recognize former leaders Sr Norita Cooney and C.J. Marr who started and supported the effort in Tanzania. The entire Board who approved the significant grant that we continue to use for this project. CEO Wayne Sensor and President Rick Hachten for their ongoing commitment to this international program. The Friends of Tanzania Oversight Committee including Beth Llewellyn, Dave Christensen, Rev Martin Russell, Ken Lawonn. My special thanks to Ken and Keven Nokels who I have reported to during this period. Former Alegent person Jim Simon was key in securing a great deal of the supplies /equipment we are using and Dr Colleen Stice for her supply recycling efforts. Our Biomed staffs, especially Nancy Welch and Mike Root have been contacted repeatedly to help and advise. There are so many more at Alegent I have called upon for help and never been refused.
We have had several good partners in this effort. Global Health Ministeries / Scott Lein for supplying shipping expertise as well as supplies themselves, Temple Bible Church of Temple Texas for support in building the facility, Kilimanjaro Christian Medical center (one of the original partners, not now active but I expect we will be back together in the future), the Nebraska Synod of the ELCA. Dr John Mkenda and Marlys/Alex Meyer for raising the funds to ship the container of equipment, and so many more.
So, we are on to the next challenge and I pray one day I can announce another celebration, the completing of the one thousandth ortho procedure at Machame Lutheran Hospital.
Mungu awe nasi / God be with us