Wednesday, May 7, 2008

From Jose Zeballos, MD

Today the last three of our patients are leaving King Faisal Hospital in good health. Vedaste and Samuson will be heading home here in Kigali, while Jean will be taken by Dr. Schulze, cardiologist, to Butare Hospital closer to his home town.

The many obstacles that previously would have made this transition diffilcult have been facilitated with the availability of internet. Technology has allowed us to communicate and pass off patient information with ease and will allow us to provide follow up care as closely as we would back home. Patient history, lab results, discharge summaries, follow up echocardiogram results and medication lists are a few of the items listed.

This was initially proposed by Dr. Rawn, and thanks to John Connell my co-resident, my job was made easier in putting the information together to pass off to our colleagues here in Rwanda. We've even found a nurse who will be trained to oversee each patient's progress in regards to antigoagulation and follow up. It seems appropiate that today is also the first day of follow up for one of our first cases. Jean was seen by Dr. Bukhman today and is in good health. Dr. Bukhman will follow some of our patients and has been extremely helpful in helping organize each patients follow up.

On a personal note, although I did not get to be with the whole group, the experience was just as rewarding and at the same time inspiring. I have to thank Jo Fagan for her help with the patients during my last few days here and Leslie for a well thought out plan for me to be ready for whatever may happen. What once was a thought, maybe a conversation, is now a life-changing experience. Thank you all.

Above, Gene Bukhman provides follow up care to one of our patients.

From Leslie Sabatino, RN, clinical coordinator

Good Morning,I am here this morning after a long night's sleep and shower and I am wondering what to do. I have been in a constant 'frantic' rush for the last 9 months to get things together and packed, make sure everyone is comfortable, and this morning I feel quite lost and confused. I have no where to run to or calls to make today. It is an odd feeling.

Yesterday, I came home to the most beautiful banner that my family had draped across the front of my entry way. It had all of the Team Heart member and patient pictures with blog entries. To see all your faces and the faces of our patients at my home had the most emotional response from me.

WE DID IT!!!! We changed 11 people's lives forever and for the better, and we should all be proud. The ripple effect will be unknown to us but you should all know it is there. These patients will be able to finish school, help their families or return to their work.I will hold a special place in my heart for all of you and for all you did. The long shifts, innovative treatments, and lack of sleep for many is very, very appreciated. What a Team Heart Spirit.These are the true rare moments that make life worthwhile. I miss you all and will see you all very soon.

From Ceeya Patton Bolman, RN, program coordinator

I sit in an empty ICU and reflect on what the past 10 days have been not only for us, the 36 members of Team Heart, but for those patients who do not share a common language and yet entrusted us to provide their care.

It was an eerie feeling to transfer the patients out to the surgical ward, and I had forgotten in the past few years the incredible emotional connection physicians and nurses develop with patients in that critical period. I was dreading moving that last patient out...and returned to find it empty. Leslie--after working all night--showed up at the right moment and moved him over, so I would not be alone!

We leave many friends, both at King Faisal and Partners In Health, and it is hard to say goodbye. We will take a group photo of those we can gather...3 patients have been discharged, happy as can be with huge smiles and hugs all around. One patient remains in the King Faisal ICU for monitoring heart rate, but I think we can walk him outside for the photo. All the others are in the surgical ward in 2 rooms and doing well, supporting each other. I walked in yesterday and they were lined up at the mirror checking out incisions!!!

To cover all bases, we pray and keep our fingers crossed they will continue to improve to go home soon.The local team is feeling more confident and is under the leadership of Dr. Joseph Mucumbitsi, Dr. Mugisa, Jo and Dr. Joseph, and they have Gene and Jose for the following week. I have no doubt they will continue to provide care at the same level and, thanks to Jim Rawn's computer skills and google docs, we all can follow the lab values from wherever we are!!!

We miss our team members. Thanks for all the incredible well wishes...we all teared up at Prem and Chip's emails. We head home in a few hours and will see you all soon!!
Murabeho! (Goodbye in Kinyarwandan)