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John Roughan: Taking Things For Granted!

Taking Things For Granted!

By John Roughan
27 March 2006

How easily we take things for granted! Last week I got a wake up call, began to realize how much I depend on institutions, personnel and processes that I hardly think about until I need their help. My wife, Bernardine, was admitted to the Solomons' Referral Hospital (affectionately known, as No. 9) for a life threatening condition. She's out now but only because a group of dedicated, professional staff whom I hardly knew did their duty.

All of a sudden, in an instant of time, my wife was in absolute need of highly trained medical personnel, an institution that could deliver accurate and clear medical information and, a trained staff able to administer a precise regime of drugs properly. All these ingredients had been building up a track record over a number of years now and when needed in time of an emergency, kicked in their expertise and saved a life.

Last Wednesday night, at least for me, was normal, quite routine and nothing that made it special from a hundred other evenings But all this changed in an instant! Bernardine could hardly lift her head from the pillow, her body completely weak and was able to walk a bit but with great difficulty. Where does one turn at 7:00 in the evening; clinics, doctors offices are closed but fortunately, one medical place still working. That was No. 9!

A hurried trip to the hospital's emergency room was an eye opener. Mothers holding tightly on to their obviously distressed babies paced up and down the floor, an older man sitting patiently holding a blood filled bandaged to a deep knife wound to the leg--he had accidentally cut himself while brushing around the house--and still others, lying down where ever they could rest their heads, pale, sick and moaning quietly in deep pain. In the middle of this sea of suffering humanity were doctors, nurses, hospital staff and technicians quietly going about their work.

When I mentioned to one doctor "It seems very busy tonight!". He replied, "No, not at all, this is almost normal. You should be here some nights when it really gets busy!": After less than 15 minutes waiting outside in the public section, Bernadine passed through the first level exam which immediately ruled out malaria--no temperature, no splitting headache--, and diabetes wasn't the cause of her severe tiredness either. But the nurse's exam did pick up on a suspicious heart beat. With little delay, she was whisked to the resident Doctor on Call that night who immediately called for an ECG exam (Electric Cardiograph) which clearly showed an irregular heart beat.

As if the two of us were the only two persons in the room, the doctor carefully explained and drew pictures for us to understand what the ECG test had surfaced. He patiently explained what the small lines of the test indicated, its meaning and informed us why Bernardine would have to be admitted immediately without delay. Her low blood pressure, the ECG reading and the doctor's training all kicked into action: she was immediately given proper medication, admitted to a hospital bed in the medical ward within 30 minutes and would be under supervision the whole night.

It's so comforting to realize the professionalism, commitment and work ethic of perfect strangers who were merely doing their job the best way they knew. How many more such institutions and professionals across the nation perform much the same work day in and day out. Although not surrounded by the latest hi-tech machines, with the limited resources at hand, they do a remarkable job of keeping our sick people functioning and well.

With such dedicated people running our hospitals, it's a good reminder that as bad as the 1998-2003 period of Social Unrest turned out, most Solomon Islanders weathered the storm better than could have been expected. As has been said in these columns before, the nation's strength resides with its people--from our health professionals down to the backbone of society, the villager.

Our political leadership needs to learn this lesson. Solomons' society remains strong, vibrant and resilient. What it desperately needs are leaders who have the same level of commitment, drive and qualities. Next month's election, hopefully, will deliver a good number of political leaders who will steer our nation to a future it deserves with the qualities many of its people show on a daily basis.


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