Posted on 29 July, 2019

Daily Update – Saturday 3rd August 2019

Yesterday was comprised by a series of lectures in an educational symposium. Featuring many speakers across multiple disciplines the focus was on cardiac services related to the local community, the hospital and the project.

Speakers from Australia as well as Papua New Guinea covered a range of topics, from all related departments, such as nursing, physiotherapy, surgery, perfusion and more. Featuring discussion around the ups and downs of the project and local work as well as techniques used at home.Today is the final day at the hospital, which is always a tough one, emotions run high! Saying goodbye to many new and old friends, amongst taking as many selfies as possible, while giving lots of hugs, kicking a few last balls down hallways and running around. It is a great way to end the week and is amazing to see so many smiles on the ward!

With 10 patients receiving life changing surgery this week as well as countless hours of education, there is a great feeling of success. The families of all the patients, while previously worried about recovery, they are all now hopeful for their future. Already seeing visible results with better breathing and being able to exercise on the ward. The future of cardiac in Papua New Guinea has a bright future if this week is anything to go by. There is a sense of hope, even when discussing the issues of the project and the hard work everyone has put into the past several weeks and months leading up to this.

Both Open Heart International and the locals will be working on this between trips in the hope that we are one step closer to independent cardiac services in PNG.

Until February 2020 Papua New Guinea…

Daily Update – Friday 2nd August 2019

Open Heart International (OHI) Volunteer Physiotherapist, Renee Bowran has been active on the ward the entire trip. We have seen multiple local physiotherapists working on new techniques and skills as well as spending a significant amount of time with patients developing their care and, in the progress, furthering their knowledge in paediatric cardiac care.

This year, Renee has started exercise treatment on the patients while they are still in the intensive care unit (ICU) as well as on on life support as it proves to assist the recovery process. It has involved in-depth lecture sessions with the local physiotherapy team covering theory as well as science and maths, relating to the practical outcomes.

Renee is also known as the ‘bubble lady’ thanks to constantly using bubbles as a breathing exercise with patients and repeatedly being in those fun bubble photos on the front cover of the local newspapers!

While it may all look like fun and games at times; getting newly mended hearts and lungs functioning to its full capacity again is no quick fix! Children who prior to surgery could not play properly or walk to school only a few weeks ago are already running around and having fun, these activities assist dramatically with patient recovery.

With Thursday being the final day of surgery and two patients on the operating list, the week is fast coming to a close. But not before an entire day being focused on education with a cardiac symposium today.

The first two patients of the week have even migrated from the ward to stay in another part of the hospital until it is time to go home. The good news is that there are still a couple of days for them to visit the ward to get some basketball in before everyone heads home!

Daily Update – Thursday 1st August 2019

The mid way mark of the project sees 6 patients receive life-saving surgery thus far. The patients are either on the ward, starting to get up and about and play some games or recovering from surgery in ICU. Many of the patients are working with the physiotherapy team to work on their lung function and coughing to get everything moving properly again!

Amidst the physical activity for recovery there are a range of other activities happening in different parts of the cardiac team. The intensive care volunteers are diligently working with local staff on the maths for medications and helping them learn new or improved techniques for patient care. Ward staff are working on calculating correct dosage of medications and working on improvement of monitor techniques. Ongoing training is happening every spare minute here at Port Moresby General Hospital (PMGH), which is fantastic to see! Small conversations or occurrences lead into constructive and eye-opening learning experiences for everyone involved. The enthusiasm for cardiac care in the local community is only growing stronger as time goes on.

In other fantastic news, the cardiac catheterisation lab (affectionately known as Cath lab) is up and running! Late Tuesday afternoon, after many full days of setting up. Dr Jason Sharp, the team’s cardiologist worked alongside the rest of the team in order to take the first patient on board. With successful treatment the resources built by local efforts the team has started a new avenue for patient care here at PMGH.Yesterday morning proceeded by traditional dancers comprised of local Cardiac nursing staff the Cath Lab was officially opened by Prime Minister James Marape and several key note speakers. Speakers included Open Heart International (OHI) volunteer; Interventional Cardiologist, Dr Jason Sharp and local cardiac surgeon, Dr Noah Tapaua, who has been operating with the OHI visiting team for many years. Former Prime Minister, Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare assisted with the cutting of the ribbon, escorted by Health Minister Elias Kapavore.

Daily Update – Wednesday 31st July 2019

Business is as ‘usual’ here at Port Moresby General Hospital (PMGH). First thing in the morning a patient under goes lifesaving surgery and our patient from yesterday, Joseph will move onto the ward.When a patient’s operation is completed, the patient is transferred from the operating theatre into the intensive care unit. Here the local team of nurses and Doctors work closely with the Open Heart International (OHI) volunteers to monitor the condition of the patient and help them recover from the major surgery they have just undertaken.

Both the local and volunteer physiotherapists role is to monitor the patients and help them with breathing exercise to enable to them to get up and move again as soon as it is safe to do so. Eventually after a few painful coughs and some rest the patient is ready for their first walk post-op. When undertaking their first walk they walk carefully from the intensive care unit to the ward where they can continue to rest and recover while being continually monitored. The road to recovery continues here with the hope to return to a full bill of health and eventually to be discharged from Hospital to embark on their ‘new’ life.

Daily Update – Tuesday 30th July 2019

Sunday was the first day of surgery here in Papua New Guinea (PNG). With each team getting their particular departments together as quickly and efficiently as possible it makes for an extremely busy morning. By mid afternoon the first patient has returned from a successful operation and has been placed in the intensive care unit (ICU). Soon after, the second lifesaving heart operation begins! It won’t be much longer before the patients are up and about on the ward blowing bubbles and playing games for their rehabilitation with the physiotherapists.

The Cardiac Catheterisation Laboratory (aka ‘Cath Lab’) is a new unit installed here at Port Moresby General Hospital (PMGH). Open Heart International (OHI) has brought its first Cath Lab team in order to get everything up and running with local staff in the newly built space. Funding for this has come from a range of sources including a large swell of local support towards independent cardiac service. The unit is staffed by doctors, radiographers and nurses who use the lab and X-rays in order to diagnose and treat a range of heart related illness.

The Cath Lab nursing team consisting of Barbara Copus from the Royal Adelaide Hospital and Jade Jones from The Sydney Adventist Hospital ran a quick afternoon training session with local staff, covering different methods and procedures for preparation and practice. This was a great use of the environment before everything is made totally sterile, ready for the first procedures in the space.

The presence of the Cath Lab should dramatically improve quality of life for many people who previously did not have access to life saving cardiac treatment. This is part of a larger redevelopment of areas happening here at PMGH which looks to have a dramatic impact on the local ability to treat and care for patient health.

Daily Update – Monday 29th July 2019

Saturday the team landed in Port Moresby.

When I say ‘team’ I mean that the majority of the volunteers have landed, as several members have already been in Papua New Guinea getting the project started with patient screening as well as education training atPort Moresby General Hospital (PMGH)

The past week, volunteer Cardiologist, Dr. Scott Fox has been working alongside local cardiologist, Dr. Cornelia Kilalang in Port Moresby and in Lae. They have been screening patients to assess which cases are the highest priority for surgery. Scott and Cornelia have run cardiac examinations on approximately 91 patients in 3 and a half days to be able to present to the surgical team at PMGH.

Intensive care nurses; Sam, Sarah and Claire have been running education sessions for the past few days. Covering areas such as, advanced life support, intensive care techniques and self care. It was great to see some of the core local nurses returning to work with Open Heart International (OHI) and even some of them rising to new leadership roles. The local nurses have even pooled together their own education resources where funding was lacking, such as purchasing their own supplies and projector to get the most out of everything they can when training.

Volunteer Physiotherapist, Renee landed Friday to begin education sessions with the local physiotherapy team. Approximately 11 staff came in on their day off to pursue unpaid training in order to further their knowledge and give better care to their patients.

The enthusiasm and dedication from the local staff here at PMGH is evident across every department. There is a real sense of ownership across all services they currently provide and wish to provide for their community.

Although one of the primary goals this week is to preform successful surgeries and assist with life-changing surgery, the larger focus is on independence. Providing long term services for not only PNG but and the entire pacific region is looking hopeful here in Port Moresby.