Reflections from a Visiting Nurse

Hannah Luah, a recent nursing graduate from the National University of Singapore came to visit us in August 2018. All our staff tremendously enjoyed her visit, and the gentle, genuine way she fit into our nursing and hospital community. We were impressed with how quickly she picked up Thai as well: I remember one evening in the operating room when someone asked for the vital signs of the patient, and the answer came back in perfect Thai – in Hannah’s voice! Hannah, we wish you all the best in your next steps in your journey and hope you will visit us again soon. 

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Kwai River Christian Hospital in the Rainy Season (August 2018)

The Kwai River Christian Hospital (KRCH) is a hospital located in Village Huay Malai near Sangklaburi, within the Kanchanaburi province of Thailand. Its cosy compounds comprise an inpatient ward, outpatient facilities, one ED, 1 OT and 1 delivery room. There are also lab, pharmacy, radiology and physiotherapy services.

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The Pharmacy, bill payment counter and hallway to the X Ray Room and Operating Room

The hospital staff are a warm, close-knit community of Thais and foreign missionaries who live within the adjacent hospital housing, or around the village. Located near the Thai-Myanmar border, they provide care to the Thai, Karen, Mon and Burmese people who live around the region, including refugees. Sometimes, patients are referred from Sangklaburi Hospital or Myanmar as well.

A day usually starts with worship, prayer and morning devotions in Thai before most work begins. As a freshly graduated nursing student, I followed the nurses closely throughout my 1 month there. Coming from Singapore’s specialty-based system, I was amazed to see the breadth of responsibilities the nurses there had. Sometimes, we would start the day with a delivery, then go back to inpatient ward duties, and assist in surgery in the afternoon. Being mainly trained to function in the inpatient ward setting, I learnt a lot from observing deliveries and surgeries, and eventually circulating in the OT. That same nurses could efficiently run the inpatient ward, operating theatre, and delivery room all in the same day really blew me away. The next week, they would rotate to the outpatient department/ED, and then back again. It was eye-opening to see such flexibility and capability, which I never would have seen in Singapore. I also learnt a lot from visiting doctors and teams who came from many different backgrounds, and brought with them expertise in pediatrics, A&E, anaesthesia and internal medicine.

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A quiet moment in the Emergency Room
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A view from the Inpatient Ward nurses counter
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In the Operating Room

I also appreciated the autonomy and independence the nurses were granted, a sign of the good rapport and trust built among the team. Apart from confidence in each other’s abilities and intentions, I feel these relationships were augmented by the interactions out of work that arose from many staff being neighbours in the hospital-provided housing as well. In Singapore we are often taught about teamwork through inter-professional education (IPE). However, IPE had always seemed limited in my opinion until I saw how the relationships in and outside of this hospital led to a close-knit community pursuing the best interest of the patient.

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A teaching moment in the Operating Room seen from the scrub station

I will always remember KRCH for the people and the warmth the community gave off. It has all been very inspiring to me and though I know that we rarely have the luxury of such a convenient setting in Singapore, it motivates me to try my best not just with my patients, but with my fellow healthcare providers as well.

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Celebrating Dr Thew’s Birthday
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A touristy moment on the Sapan Mon-Thai Friendship Bridge in Sangklaburi

– Hannah Luah, 2018

Celebrating Christmas at Huay Malai

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It’s been more than 12 years since we’ve had Christmas as a holiday at Kwai River Christian Hospital. This year we are turning back the clock, and most of our staff will have the time off on Christmas day to remember and celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ with their churches and families.

This year’s sweet December kicked off on the 30th of November with a huge crowd in the hospital front lawn and parking lot.

A beautifully decorated tinselly and aluminum foil on bamboo lattice backdrop graced the stage for the narrated Christmas pageant – sort of the prodigal son meets the Christ child to find the meaning of Christmas. Along the way, the prodigal and his friends were partying it up with our young nurses who were quite enjoying being bargirls for the night. Fittingly perhaps, our antenatal nurse played the part of Mary, silently and calmly cradling the CPR mannequin baby Jesus through the night, without having to resort to chest thrusts or back blows despite the shepherd-nurses bearing IV poles as crooks.

The KRCH choir and a several vocal groups from the hospital, the Gethsemane Bible Institute and Saha Christian School gave lovely performances. Ajarn Surachai gave a warm welcome to our village neighbors and Ajarn Somsak gave a prayer of blessing to start the evening.  Apart from the pageant, the other big draw for the crowd (to stay to the end) were the raffle ticket prizes for which you had to be present when your number was called – these included a shiny red bicycle with a pillion seat, a standing electric fan, and a hot water dispenser.

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May Ajarn Mark’s message ring strong and true through our village neighborhood and to the ends of the earth! John 3:16-17 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” The true meaning of Christmas is the celebration of this incredible act of love. May your Christmas be most richly blessed as well!

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A Visit from Lea Lindero

Lea Lindero caring for a baby in the incubator

Lea Lindero, our dear friend and one of our longest serving KRCH nurses (1983 – 2015), came by to visit before flying back to the Philippines where she will start the next phase of her “retirement” life building up the church her father originally planted in her hometown.

Celebrating Lea’s Retirement at Jan’s Chalet
Lea’s Montage
Gethsemane Bible School Choir Tribute to Lea

Our Angels of Mercy Past and Present – Nursing in Kwai River Christian Hospital

I’m told that the very beginnings of medical care in the Sangkhlaburi area started with nurses. And even after the doctors came, there have been times when there were no doctors in Kwai River Clinic/Hospital. But our nurses have been there throughout our hospital’s history…. with the baton passed from one generation to the next.

Flooded! Showers of Blessings…

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9:34 AM Friday 20th 2018

Friday the 20th started with an innocent pitter-patter of raindrops, as almost every morning does during the rainy season. By late morning it was clear the drainage ditch bringing water under the road in front of the hospital was in trouble. It had been about 5 years since the last flash flood had swamped the hospital, but immediately, the hospital staff went into high-gear to move all the equipment and medications to the higher ground of the inpatient annex and above the level of the flood waters. The Saha Christian School next-door closed classes early, and sent us their older students to help sandbag off and seal the front and rear entrances to the building. Unfortunately while they were battling at those fronts, the floodwaters came up rising up through the sewers and the toilets.

The little army of volunteers barricaded the CT room with plastic liners and sandbags, and scooped with anything that could hold water,  while water pumps were set up. After a couple hours of valiantly battling the rising tide of murky water, it began to recede towards the OR and labour and delivery rooms, where the waters were deepest.

By the end of the day, with much sweat and elbow-grease, we had mopped up the outpatient area, the ER and OR. The CT room only had 2 cm of water sneak in, and after a quick check, we left the CT room sandbagged overnight for safekeeping.

Nearly everything is functional again, except a non-portable x-ray machine, and we are waiting for the electronics for the server portion of the CT machine to dry out a bit more before the technicians inspect it and we risk turning the power back on.

Our rainy season lasts until the end of October, so we are praying that this does not happen again. We will be ready though, and it was such a blessing to see everyone working together in the smelly water to get the hospital cleaned up and running again!

Prayers Are Needed

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Join us to give thanks to God for the provision of light enough for each step on the journey, as well as the camaraderie and gracious assistance of many who have helped to lighten the load of the full-time team serving at KRCH.

Please do pray along with us to use our resources wisely to serve the community entrusted to us, and those who have trusted us for their care.

Uphold the leadership team and the hospital board of directors, as we build up the team  and begin building the physical structure of the new Kwai River Christian Hospital in Sangkhlaburi Christian Center.

Pray for healing and wholeness for the physical, emotional and spiritual health of our staff, especially for some who have gone through loss and sorrow. May our Lord be their comfort and source of strength.

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Helping Hands

A huge thank you to the many people who have played an important part in helping our patients and equipping and encouraging our staff.