Tues 22nd Nov
Found my way to the hospital on the bus this morning! For someone who’s hopeless with directions and navigating in my hometown at the best of times, I was surprised! I worked with Rollina in ward supply area of the pharmacy today. Rollina’s a jolly Pharmacy Officer who runs ward supply. She oversees the supply of medications to the wards in the hospital through the imprest system. An imprest system is just hospital-speak for the drugs that are kept on the ward for easy access by nurses and others because they’re commonly used for the patients on that ward.
I headed off with Rodney, a pharmacy officer who works mainly in ward supply. We visited the Labour Ward, Gynecology Ward, Ante-natal and Post-natal Wards. But I didn’t see many little babies in our travels :( The wards are separate buildings connected by covered walkways. There are no real corridors in the hospital, so less air conditioning required!
Rodney and the other pharmacy officers who look after the imprest system keep a close eye on the levels of both medications and dressings on the ward and record in a book for each ward, the amount of stock required, if any. Different wards are visited on each day so the imprest for a certain ward is topped up once a week, on the same day of each week.
My first impression was that the drug rooms in each ward look tired and rundown. Stock wasn’t stored neatly on the shelves and boxes of medications or dressings were often crushed or torn. Sometimes lights weren’t working in the drug rooms so we strained for natural light as we worked. In saying this, the aesthetics of these drug rooms don’t reflect the efficiency and competence of those who use and manage them - the nurses and pharmacy officers like Rodney. Nurses buzzing around us in the drug rooms were confident in what they were doing and thorough in organising their patient’s medicines, doing all this with good humour and warmth.
We returned to the pharmacy after assessing what stock was needed on the wards, and Rodney and I went about filling big boxes with the required dressings and meds.
We pushed these boxes on huge trolleys back to the wards which Rodney would carry in (yes, carry. These boxes were not light either) and leave for replenishment of the drug room.
All this was done by 11.30am, after which time, those working in ward supply seem to be twiddling their thumbs waiting for extraordinary requests from wards for drugs not kept on imprest. I’m so used to a constant and frantic work environment of pharmacy departments back home, this different pace has taken some getting used to! I hung out in ward supply til around 1 when Rollina and I jumped in the truck to head down to Medicines Storage, a big warehouse about 10mins drive away from the hospital.
I’ve never seen so many meds. This place is about half the size of my local Bunnings with almost ceiling-high shelves filled with boxes and boxes of meds. I noticed UNICEF and UN logos on some boxes and will sus out the story when I’m back working there tomorrow. Rollina travels down to Medicines Storage twice a month with the truck driver to collect meds for the hospital. I’m looking forward to finding out more about how this facility works tomorrow, particularly any problems with its running and the subsequent impact on supply of meds for the nation!
Knocked off at 3 today (cos Rollina’s awesome!) and stopped past the major market in Honiara on my way home. Wow. So much fruit and food, so many people, so hot. I only picked up one or two things because I was already juggling a large-ish bag from work, but I’ll be back to stock up properly as soon as I can!
Wed 23rd Nov
Laying low today after a bad night thanks to a stomach bug. Can’t think of anything dodgy I’ve eaten so maybe it’s all just cos I’m adjusting to a new climate and diet.
It’s a beautiful sunny day for the first time since I got here, so while part of me is glad I’m not cooped up inside the warehouse that is the Medicine Store today, at least I can enjoy the view from our house! Will try and head down to the market later this afternoon if I’m up to it, I’m really craving fresh fruit.
That’s all for now, nothing much super exciting going on. Cheers
Fri 25th Nov
Hanging out to see if it’s worth going into the hospital because there’s the potential for riots in light of a vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister this morning. All the volunteers (such as those working with AYAD and similar) have been told to stay home today so I think I’m going to do the same!
Made it to the markets on Wednesday afternoon! Got a bit excited about all the fresh fruit everywhere and found myself trying to juggle a very big watermelon, a pineapple, tomatoes, bread and water! That was fun on the bus home and up the hill to our house in this super humid weather!
The markets are quite similar to the ones I’ve seen in South-East Asia but the vendors are no where near as pushy here, just very grateful if you show interest in what they’re selling and even more so if you buy.
Yesterday was a good, productive day at the hospital. I worked with Doreen, a pharmacist who helps run the Medical Information Centre (MIC). Michael wanted us to get the Pharmacy Division Newsletter finished and ready for printing by the end of the day. The newsletter is about 8 A4 pages worth of articles, information and quizzes that’s distributed to all the health professionals working at clinics across the country. All we had to do yesterday was come up with a cover story and fill in a few gaps amongst the other articles throughout the rest of the newsletter. Michael and Doreen were keen for the feature article on the cover to be about family planning so I went about putting together a summary of contraception options available for both men and women, a brief speel about how each one works and whether or not they offer any protection against STIs.
I also worked on the Expansion newsletter which goes out to the Pharmacy Officers. It’s a means of providing continuing education for them that contains articles about various drugs and what they’re used for and counselling tips that they’d use in practice. The Officers are required to answer the questions at the end of the newsletter and return their answers to the MIC for assessment and this way, the MIC can track how the Officers are going. Doing this made me realise how important Pharmacy Officers are in the success of pharmacy services in the Solomons but it doesn’t seem like their valuable contribution is adequately recognised (in the form of reasonable wages) yet.
I could have and would have had most of the work for the day done by lunchtime but everyone I work with is quite relaxed as in, why start a job 20 mins before lunch? Just hang out and do it afterwards! Lunch is at least one hour long at the hospital...I’m used to a faster paced way of smashing out what needs to be done, particularly at work, so this more relaxed atmosphere has been an adjustment at the hospital. Maybe I’m too much of a city girl and expect work to always be busy with a never-ending to-do list, but when there’s so much that can and needs to be done at NRH (the hospital’s called the National Referral Hospital), a part of me can’t understand why there’s not more of a general drive to keep ticking boxes.
Anyway, went straight from work last night to the Nunan’s house to celebrate Thanksgiving with Erin and Michael and some of their friends. My first (if somewhat atypical) experience of this American holiday was lots of fun. Erin is ‘half American’ and a couple of their friends are American so it was a good excuse to get together and feast! I met more great people who are doing various work here in Honiara and the view from the Nunan’s house is spectacular.
Still no word on the riots but I’m laying low with the others for now. Much love to all, happy Friday!