No one expects to be cold in the tropical islands of Indonesia. The temporary clinic for Operation Pacific Angel sits within a degree of the Equator on Sumatra south of Pekanbaru. At high noon the sun bakes down from almost directly overhead and temperatures soar. Nights don’t cool down much, making the air-conditioned barracks tents onsite at the clinic a comfortable sleeping retreat.
Probably because of that unbelievable heat, the thermostats in the 10 tents (with 14 cots each) were set low last night, so cool that conversations at breakfast generally concerned freezing through the night and wearing several layers of the clothing to bed.
Everyone warmed up quickly, though, when they got to work after breakfast.
The five clinic tents went up quickly, their double walls intending to keep the cool inside and the heat away. Fine-tuning their positions took some time, ensuring a tight “H” configuration while making sure floors were tight and doorways connected as designed. With an expected 700+ patients a day coming through the temporary clinic and over a hundred medical staff to attend to them, the facility’s physical organization must ensure a smooth flow of operations.
One of the four wings will be designated for women’s health, the worksite for Project HOPE volunteers Noreen Prokuski and Susan Opas. It will be divided into several private bays so that women can seek private medical care, possibly the first time they will have ever been attended by a female doctor.
Noreen will be working with an Air Force FNP, Major Susan Foster, and two local midwives. “Based on previous deployments,” reports Major Foster, “arriving in rural areas with western health care brings along a miraculous component that patients get the most excited about. Seeing an American doctor has healing powers for them.”
“In some cases, this is the first time that some patients will be seeing any health care provider since their last child was delivered,” mentions Noreen.
Susan anticipates that most mothers won’t arrive alone but with families and children in tow.
The other three wings will be utilized for optometry/dental care and general care.
HOPE volunteers finished the day helping organize the pharmacy medications. They mostly divided large bottles of vitamins into small bags with Indonesian instructions. Air Force personnel organized supplies and made batches of other pills and medications, preparing for every situation imaginable. Tomorrow the remaining organization will be completed and an opening ceremony will announce the beginning of the clinic’s services. VIP visits and live music will highlight the event.
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