Reaching Patients in a Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things around the world including how we do things at CURE Zambia. But one thing we refuse to change is our mission of healing the sick and proclaiming the kingdom of God. Our first priority is our patients and that we remain available to our patients in these difficult times.
If we exist to heal the sick and proclaim the kingdom of God, it begs the question “how do we continue to be there for our patients in this crisis?” To answer this question, we spent time in prayer, looking up to God for wisdom and direction. The senior management team held several meetings and consulted with our medical staff to strategize on the best way to keep the hospital open and keep everyone safe. One of our biggest challenges has been transporting patients to and from the hospital since public transportation has become incredibly sparse. In response, we have sent staff on medical mission trips to meet patients closer to their homes.
Our orthopedic surgeons have traveled on different medical missions to remote parts of the country in order to take specialized services to underserved places. Dr. Lastroni traveled to Chitokoloki Mission Hospital in Zambezi, the northwestern part of the country, while Dr. Moyo traveled to St. Francis Mission Hospital in Katete, the eastern part of the country. These recurring medical missions are held on a regular basis. They involve screening new patients and reviewing returning patients. Our surgeons perform basic surgeries at the host hospital and refer the more complicated cases back to CURE Zambia. These two missions alone have helped prevent hundreds of people from having to travel long distances to CURE Zambia and risk possible exposure on public transportation.
We also continued our mobile clinics. Some members of CURE Zambia’s medical and spiritual staff traveled to Zambia’s southern province for a series of seven mobile clinics in different rural locations. While mobile clinics are a regular part of our ministry, these mobile clinics required more preparation and precaution in order to keep our staff and patients safe. The space at the back of the private hospital transportation was packed with COVID-19 prevention materials such as a portable handwashing station, boxes of face masks, soap, and hand sanitizer – all of which are new additions to the mobile clinic packing list. These unique mobile clinics were held in partnership with World Vision who helped with the logistics of operating the clinics in these remote locations as well as spreading awareness of the life-changing services we offer. Our medical staff included hygiene and COVID-19 prevention lessons at these clinics in addition to the spiritual counseling and encouragement by our spiritual staff. Everyone was required to wash and sanitize their hands before being admitted, and social distancing and masks were also required. Thankfully, we had more than enough masks to provide for those who were without.
Despite the logistical changes, we saw over 300 patients with different disabilities over the seven clinics, and 150 of them were scheduled to come to CURE Zambia to receive surgery! World Vision has been incredible in providing small group, private transportation to these identified patients to reduce their potential exposure to the virus.
At one of our mobile clinics, we met a young girl named Tana. She came to us for treatment for her knock knees. She has dreams of being a nurse when she grows up and finishes school and wants her condition corrected now to help make her dream a reality. She was scheduled for surgery at CURE Zambia, and has since received life-transforming surgery to correct her legs!
Another child that we were able to help due to our mobile clinics is Chabota, a name which literally means “something that is great” in his language. Chabota came to us with a cleft lip. He was scheduled for surgery at CURE Zambia to correct his condition and has since had surgery. Chabota is recovering nicely and has a bright future ahead of him. This surgery has helped him feel more accepted in his community and leave behind the rejection he faced as a result of his condition.
At CURE, we are committed to continuing our work to heal the sick and proclaim the kingdom of God even during a virus pandemic. We will continue to explore safe ways of reaching out to vulnerable children with disabilities because disability, discrimination, and suffering have not been suspended for them.
Footnote: Article and photos by Chaanga Mungalu, Storyteller for CURE Zambia