On September 25, 2012, we opened our new inpatient facility and admitted our very first patient. Ester collapsed in the Clinic waiting room upon her arrival. She came on her own, a rarity in Tanzanian, where family members almost always accompany their loved ones to hospital. Ester was suffering from severe dehydration resulting from days of diarrhea and vomiting. She was diagnosed with an intestinal infection – in her case an opportunistic infection. Given her HIV positive status, she came to us immuno-compromised. Already on anti-retrovirals, the FAME team was able to make her comfortable in a hospital bed, begin IV fluids and the necessary antibiotics she needed to fight the infection. Given her lack of support network and weakened state, the new hospital likely played a life-saving role for her that day. Not only did she respond well to treatment, she was discharged knowing that a team of caring healthcare professionals were now accessible to her in times of crisis.
Severely dehydrated and lethargic, little Banu was admitted to the FAME Hospital on a Friday afternoon. His Mother had brought him to the Rift Valley Children’s Village where she knew there was a twice-monthly FAME mobile clinic, and where she knew someone would help. Only 2.0 kilograms and two months old, it was obvious he was suffering from severe malnutrition. Recognizing the seriousness of the situation, transport to the new FAME hospital was arranged. Upon arrival, FAME doctors and nurses provided urgent hydration and began developing a long-term plan for nutritional supplements. The FAME team learned that Banu’s Mother had been unable to produce breast milk for some time. He was immediately started on infant formula by NG tube and within a day began to stabilize. As he gained strength, a plan was established by the nursing staff to educate his mother about a proper feeding schedule. But it wasn’t that simple. Upon discharge, Banu and his Mother would return to a situation in which the $16 per week to procure formula was simply not within the realm of possibility. Impoverished and alone, she would need help. With assistance from the team at Rift Valley Children’s Village, an ongoing formula supply was secured for Banu. A glimmer of hope in his Mother’s eyes, Banu would have a chance after all.