Last night I went to bed at 9:30 pm. I think that's a Mercy Ships first for me.
Yesterday was screening day. A long day. A hot and humid day. A tiring day. A great day.
Screening was advertised throughout the country by radio and flyers and people from throughout the country arrived hoping we'd be able to help them. Crew from every department was involved with screening day, with some crew member s leaving as early as 4:30 Am. I was working with communications and met the rest of our team in the office at 5:30 am to gather equipment and head out to the appointed Land Rovers. By 6 Am we were on the road.
When we arrived we were greeted by an already long line of people waiting for the screening to started. It is estimated that over 700 people were there by 7 Am. Some had traveled hours and days to just to come to the screening. It's sort of comparable to how people travel long distances and camp out hoping to audition for American Idol.
Except these were people hoping for a chance to walk on two feet. Or that their babies cleft lip could be fixed. Or their mothers large facial tumor could be removed.
Actually, it's quite different than American Idol.
The screening was held in the Samuel Doe Stadium. Possible patients we first seen by pre-screeners; experienced staff who decided who could pass through the gate. Those with problems we could potential help were able to pass through the gate and continue with the screening process. Those with infirmities outside of the services we perform had to go home.
Being a prescreener, having to tell people there is no way we can help them, it a very tough job.
Once making it through the gate, potential patients waited. And then waited a little more. In the heat. In the sun. With their small kids and elderly parents. They waited with elated hopes; they had made it through the first round, maybe their dream would come true and they or their loved one would receive a golden ticket; a green surgery date card. While they waited crew members passed out water, bread, played worship music, and played with the children. There was a kids station set up where kids could have their faces painted, color, play games, or have a balloon animal made.
The kids here are so stinking cute. This pediatric nurse was extremely happy to interact with children again.
Once they made it through the line, each person went through a series of station manned by our HR personal and medical teams. The flow through the room was as follows:
1. Registration: ran by our Human Resource department
2. Patient History: taken by nurses
3. Surgeons Assessment: physical assessment by surgeons
4. Medical examination: anesthesiologists determine if patient is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia
5. Labs: Pre surgical lab work.
6. Pharmacy: each patient receives Iron and multivitamins to strengthen the patient for surgery.
7. Communications: before photo
Crew were at the stadium until 9 pm caring for the last patients. I personally left at 8 pm. The screening was impressively organized and went very smoothly. I was able to talk with, hold, and love on the people waiting which was a wonderful privilege I have missed since the ward closed. I really love being with the Liberian people. Their joy and hope is unnerving, their suffering heartbreaking, and their smiles beautiful.
I will divulge in a more personal testimony tomorrow, but now I must attend to the massive amount of photo editing and story waiting that awaits me.
Good thing I just made coffee.