Jackie is a Staff Nurse on the Flying Eye Hospital and has been a member of the crew since June 2008
When I think of Niger I am
reminded of the first time I flew in to Niamey, it was beautiful, the dry desert
with a trail of green along the Niger River. Climbing off the plane the heat
seemed to cover you like a blanket.
The construction of a new theater
complex at the Niamey National Hospital was in progress but when I arrived the
week before our program began, it was complete and the hosts were keen to use
this complex during the upcoming Flying Eye Hospital program. The goal was to
transform a brand new unit into a fully functional operating theater complex by
the time the rest of the Flying Eye Hospital team arrived. It took hours of
instructing and guiding the local staff in the development of their complex,
which involved gathering theater equipment and supplies, as well as training of
the local staff in aseptic technique.
One of the days was allocated to
cleaning and disinfecting the theater complex, it was at this time I realized
the need for just the basics such as clean cloths, mops and disinfectant. There
was no shortage of ophthalmic instruments but it took 2 days to sort through
them all and organize them into instrument trays. Besides many other trays, 3
complete cataract sets were made up and were going to be used during the ORBIS program. By the end of the week not only did I feel I had bonded and won the
trust of the local staff but that they and the theater complex were ready for
the first surgery day.
It was 8 days after I arrived
that we had our first surgery day, which turned out to be a great success.
After the first case, a huge feeling of accomplishment and a sense of pride and
excitement about the potential of their new theater complex were felt by all
the local staff. Another 5 days of surgery were successfully carried out, but my concern was whether the staff were going to keep up the
management of the complex and continue to perform the skills that had been
taught them during the 2 week ORBIS Nurse Training Program.
Eight weeks after the
By the end of the Hospital Based Program I felt that
the theater complex was left in the capable hands of the local staff determined
to keep up the good work!
Photos by Perry Athanason