Caitlin Hussey (US)
The Santa Maria village is located on Chilubi Island, which is reached only by boat where it sits in Lake Bangwelulu and a series of marshes in the northern Zambian province. The shores are lined with villages while the interior consists of patchy wooded grasslands. Santa Maria was first discovered in 1868 and soon after settled by Catholic missionaries. They built a church, a school, and a hospital, all of which are utilized today.
I am working as a nurse at Santa Maria Mission hospital alongside other Fidesco volunteers and local staff. This is long standing Fidesco mission. You can actually see a video of prior volunteers at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyfSZfE9R4Y
As a nurse on Chilubi Island I am learning every day, whether it is clinically in my work at the hospital or about Santa Marias sense of community, culture, and strong faith through each experience I have and each person I meet.
These employees consist of a clinical officer, a laboratory technician, nurses, a radiology technician, and environmental staff. It is a first level reference center, meaning it can provide care for more complicated cases than the local clinics on the island. This provides for a busy work day and a high demand from employees with patients ranging from the local village or those who have traveled miles, most of the time by foot, in order to recieve this higher standard of care.
The hospital consists of four inpatient wards; female, male, children, and maternity. In addition, there is an operating theatre, radiology department, ART (antiretroviral treatment for HIV/AIDS) treatment room, and an outpatient department. The hospital faces many challenges including financial struggles, unrelible electricity or running water, lack of medical supplies, and caring for a poverty stricken community. Consequences of poor diet, living conditions, and hygiene are all evident as being some of the main causes of disease in the local population. Common diseases seen include malaria, HIV/AIDS, malnutrition, and tuberculosis to name a few.