Thursday, June 25, 2015

Guyana 2015: "Continuity and Change"

Different #1: Me - Off to Mercy Again

It took me some time to decide about my return to St Joseph Mercy Hospital, School of Nursing.  While my time there  has been part of my life for over a decade, nothing ever stays the same.   I have decided to go again, but instead of three months I am going for two.   I will be there for the start of the classes with First Year Nursing Students and leave by the end of October.   I will be doing just about the same stuff; just I will be there for less time.   Those new students are going to have to learn faster too!

Different #2: the School of Nursing

The School has a new Director, Elsie Asabere.  Elsie has been at the school off and on for many years.  She is originally from Ghana.  I know that because she doesn't come to school when Ghana is playing a match in the World Cup.

Director Elsie has been a constant support for my classes
as well as other volunteers who had joined me over the years.
Here she is with Dennis LeBlanc from last year.
Elsie has been excited about learning Problem Based Learning and tried working through a few problems by herself earlier this year. In November and December she will continue the course that Tony Carr and I wrote some years ago    I am excited to see how she will shape the Nursing School.   She has her B.Sc. Nursing from The Netherlands and has practiced in several countries before coming to Guyana with her husband, Victor, a missionary with Lighthouse International, and their three children.

There are also two new Faculty Members - Roberta Binda and Azalia Luke.   While they may be new faculty, they are old students.  I didn't have any "current" pictures of them as B.Sc. Nursing graduates, so their old "prison" shots will have to do.   Both Azalia and Roberta have been small group tutors in PBL -- and both have gotten way better marks in university than I ever did!

Different #3: My Flat

This is an old picture as there are now two bedrooms on the left
and a new shower on the right as well as a fixed up kitchen,
 and the stairs in the front are gone...

 Actually, it is the same flat I had last year, but "flattened".   The upstairs will now be used to store supplies for the hospital, so I will have just the first floor.  This will be more than enough as they have added a second bedroom and a shower to that floor.  I have only asked for a few things in my flat: window screens, internet access, a shower that works and a fridge to keep my vegetables [and other stuff] cold.

There is really only one problem with one floor: I have not been able to attract any volunteers to join me because some one has spread a dirty rumour that I snore - loudly.   So if you don't believe that I could be that loud, or you are deaf, please think about joining me.

Different #4: The Hospital

Mercy seems to be on the upturn.  CEO Dr. Bridgemohan, COO Helen Browman [and all the staff] have been working hard to improve the facilities, recruit physicians and retain the best nurses.   Old condemned buildings have been torn down and new construction is underway.  One of the interesting additions is an Outdoor Café.
Sandra was an Executive Assistant, but now is the Maître D’.

I hope she has been working on her  flambéing skills.
If you wish to learn more about the positive changes, the hospital has a FaceBook page and a Website.   


Different #5: The Country

In May of this year, there were national elections, and a new party, A "Partnership for National Unity" and "Alliance for Change" (APNU+AFC) is now in a majority Government.  Previously, the Peoples' Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) had been in power for the last 23 years.  It will be interesting to see if their leadership will bring improvements for the people of Guyana.   As a visitor and guest in their country, I don't have a public opinion, though there are promising signs.  I do know that the previous government was a good support for the Canadian Mental Health Team led by Sujay Patel, Peter Kuhnert and Ram Kalap who are colleagues from Canadian hospitals or organizations.   I hope that the new government will also be supportive of their volunteer efforts.

The 2014 Canadian Mental Health Team with Guyana Colleagues
*Moses Nagamootoo who in now the Prime Minister & First Vice-President wrote an autobiographical novel, Hendree's Cure (2000, Peepal Tree Publishers).  I have seen it available for years but never ordered it because it was pricey, but now that he is the Prime Minister I am reading it -- it will give us a lot to talk about if I ever meet him.

More Continuity than Difference

These are my friends, colleagues and "old" students whom I look forward to seeing each year.  I won't start naming them as I am sure I would leave many out that deserve recognition and thanks.  I would not have been able to accomplish so much in Guyana without their support.

I will make an exception for Guyana Christian Charities Canada (please write "O'Connor-Mercy Projects on cheques, etc.") as these are friends to whom you can send a filthily excessive donation for my projects at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital and St Ann's Girls Home. This year the donations will go towards the tablets for all the first year nursing students, some special projects at the school and outdoor recreational supplies for the girls. I do not use any donation money for my own needs -- travel, insurances, food (including beer), and such.

Thanks for any donation you are able to make; and, if you aren't able to make a donation,send me your good wishes in an Email or on FaceBook

Have a blessed summer and I'll write again later in the season.  John