Monday, November 5, 2012

Our Team

These last couple of weeks, I haven’t taken enough time to brag on our practitioners that have been providing treatment day to day these past few months, Matilda and Edward.  These two young practitioners were trained in the same program at a missions hospital in northern India, where our assistant Esther is headed right now for training as a denture technician.  I left Liberia mid-May, which means I only contributed to the work in the clinic for about 4 months this year; but this year the clinic will once again register a record 5,500 new patients, nearly all of which come to us with a toothache. Frieda has been involved clinically, but very lightly, serving more as a mentor for Matilda and Edward and as clinic manager.

Matilda has only about 6 months experience since graduating from her training program.  While I was there, she asked for help with only two patients.  If you’ve heard anything about the difficulty of extractions in West Africa, that is incredible for someone with six months experience.  And one of the patients took me about another 30 minutes of work after I took over – I was even about to look for someone to help out.

As I've said many times before, Edward is also a natural.  Both of them have also been doing some really nice fillings on front teeth.  Over time, they will be able to charge a bit more for these and begin to subsidize the other more emergent procedures.  

Some of Edward's work

But I don’t want to stop there.  Every member of our team plays a crucial role in the operation of the clinic and all of them do it so well.  There are so many small things to help out with and they are all willing to lend a hand in whatever way they can.  I am so thankful for the team that God has brought together at TDC.

I also forgot to mention that while I was there, I was joined at the end of the first week by Vicki Thompson, one of our Mercy Ships friends and a dental hygienist who is filling in for Frieda.  Frieda has decided to take her LOA while she was back in Canada.  Vicki has already been instrumental in getting Esther rebooked and sorted for her trip to India.  Thanks for being willing to come, Vicki!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Last Clinic Day

Pictures used with parent consent
It was a really hectic last day in the clinic.  We had a four year old boy who has a cyst in his upper jaw that’s been there at least a year (they first noticed it a year ago, which means it may have been growing for two).  Under this mass was simply a cavity filled with fluid about the size of a tennis ball.  We were very happy to be able to treat it, as if it was another type of growth, the most we could have done would be to take a biopsy.  But hopefully this will be the last procedure he’ll ever have to have. 


We had two other minor cases, but then at 3:30 a young lady with a very large tumor of the lower jaw came to the hospital, and the doctor referred her over.  We did a biopsy for her and were able to remove at least part of the tumor.  This could be a cancerous process, like a lymphoma, so we’ll keep praying for her.  Either way, hope for a surgery could be slim.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Esther's visa arrived today for her travel to India.  Unfortunately, that's a day too late for her to travel with the four students from Sierra Leon.  But the good news is that she leaves Monday!  Be praying for her - can you imagine having never traveled outside of your country before, never flown on a plane and your first trip is from Liberia to India?  No thanks!  Bless you, sweet Esther!  I'm sure she will do fine.  Thankfully, there are two people who have made the EXACT same trip before in our clinic, so they can tell her everything.  Thanks for praying.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Reemphasizing prayer…

Esther goes to India in 2 days…we hope! Please pray with us, as she should get her visa tomorrow.  Nothing like cutting it close.  She is going to be trained as a denture technician with the four students from Sierra Leone, who are being trained as dental practitioners (who got their visas last week).
Today I had another osteomyelitis surgery (removal of dead bone).  Although this was a unique form, much like others I had seen where the dead portions of the bone had been encapsulated by a tumor known as fibrous dysplasia.  This is part of what distorts the face of these patients.  Although we may be able to get some improvement, their faces will sadly never be symmetrical again.

We got a pan down!!!!  Our panoramic x-ray sadly bit the dust this week.  Might be something we can fix, but won’t know for a while.  No next day service here.  So, we’re being resourceful and shooting shots with our film cartridge and standard dental x-ray machine.  And it's working!  This is yet another gentleman who has just presented to us with osteomyelitis.  He had heard our broadcast on ELWA radio.  Thank you, radio!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Clinic Day 2&3

Many of you donated to the Surf-A-Thon last year, and here is the result – Eddie’s house on campus.  I never got to see it completed.  Just two days ago, there was an electrical fire in the breaker box, but thank God Eddie was just outside, heard the popping, and was able to put it out.   The whole house could’ve easily gone up in flames.  Needless to say, we’ll be seeing about getting that fixed!  Ugh.

Yesterday was another interesting day with two surgical cases.  One was a fifteen year old girl with a rare tumor above one of her front teeth, which was a retained baby tooth, causing her front lip to protrude.  Her permanent tooth was  impacted by the tumor.  The tumor consists of dozens of what are like "tiny teeth".  After she heals and I leave, the clinic will make her a partial denture to replace the tooth.  (Black and white to make it a little less gory)

The other case was a man who had a fat tumor (lipoma) in his cheek  for seven years.  He probably is hating us today, but should be thankful in a few weeks.  Today is a couple of more “routine” dental surgeries (if there’s such a thing in Liberia).

Monday, October 22, 2012

First Day of Clinic

Not only is the clinic is running like a well-oiled machine, the team seems to really be enjoying their work.  The practitioners saw 35 toothaches today (Mondays no appointments are given because so many toothaches come from over the weekend) and I helped out and completed the first surgery of the week and screened a few other patients for surgery. We broadcast my time here on the radio today, so we could have a major influx of surgical cases to schedule tomorrow.
Me and the new boss, Eddie.
One of nurses, Garmai, thanked her “boss” this morning.  I smirked thinking she was talking about me, but she was actually talking about Eddie, our practitioner, who has been a great leader and arranged for many of the staff members to attend Garmai’s uncle’s funeral this weekend.  Eddie not only seems to be a natural clinician, but a natural leader as well.

OUCH - The gentleman below was our surgical case today and has had this swelling for almost two months.  Below it was a piece of dead bone from his jaw that had died from a tooth infection.  We were able to drain this and get the bone out the same day so that he doesn’t have to have any further surgery.  A relief for both of us.  
Meet Trinity Dental Clinic's new staff members:
Helena and Archie are our new dental assistants, Archie is in training to take over for Esther, who leaves for India for training as a denture technician.
Esther and Archie
 This is Jaylee, who has a management degree from the Univ. of Liberia and serves as our receptionist and cashier.