by Dr. Phil McDaniel
From the 1960s through the 1980s the hospital was still quite remote. Budget was tight. Much of the equipment had been donated and was quite old. To keep expenses low we made do with the materials and equipment we had.
With no regular electricity available during the day, we had to either start a “back-up” generator to provide power for, say, surgery or x-rays, or we had to schedule procedures for a time in the night when we expected that there would be electricity.
This 15 kVA 2-cylinder diesel generator was run from dusk to about 10 PM each night in the mid 1980s to supply the mission compound with power the first part of each night. Outside of these regular hours, it was used for urgent electric power needs at the hospital such as x-rays or surgery. After the arrival of government power in the late 1980s, it became a backup generator used during the frequent power outages.
Nurse Eiam providing the air pressure required for a nebulizer treatment for an asthma patient, using a bicycle pump.
Another asthma patient getting a nebulizer treatment powered by air pressure from a bicycle pump.
This man had been gored in the chest by a wild ox and had a collapsed lung on the right with some bloody fluid in his chest. I put in a chest tube to drain the fluid and help re-expand the lung. The only suction machine we had at the time was this hand-operated vacuum cylinder. It was not very efficient. Staff were encouraged to stop and give a few pulls on the vacuum pump each time they passed by the room. The patient made a gradual recovery. In fact, he is the happy fellow returning home by boat with his family in my “Boats, Carts and Elephants” post.
This spotlight, powered by a motorcycle battery, was primarily used by the night watchmen for the hospital and mission compound. It was also useful by day to search for termite entry points. When the electricity went off in the middle of an operation, it came in very handy as an emergency light source.
In the 60’s and 70’s there was no electric cast saw. Casts had to be removed by small crescent-shaped hand saws. This was a tedious task assigned, in this case, to the hospital gardener. Sometimes it was assigned to a friend or relative of the patient or even the patient himself!
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