Satrom Arrives In Cameroon

The following post was submitted by Katie Satrom, MD, second-year resident in the University of Minnesota Pediatric Global Health Track:

The view from my room

Greetings from Cameroon!

Dr. Tina Slusher and I arrived safely in Cameroon last week. We're working at Mbingo Baptist Hospital, which is a 250+ bed mission hospital in the Northwest Province. There are 45 physicians who work here, 600+ staff, and over 100 volunteers annually.

The pediatric ward consists for 20 general beds and another 6 oncology beds. There are also some children who are boarding in the surgical and ortho wards. In addition, there is a newborn nursery associated with the maternity ward and a very small NICU.

Currently 3 American pediatricians are working at the hospital. They are all recent grads who have committed to working here for 2 years. The hospital has surgical residents through the Pan African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS) program and also a med-peds residency (although they only do 25% pediatrics).

The hospital entrance

Our daily routine consists of morning report from 7am-8am, followed by either rounding in the nursery or seeing some clinic patients. Inpatient rounds begin at 9:30.

The local residents do all of the pre-rounding, documentation, and most of the orders. Later in the afternoon, we will follow-up with any loose ends, see new admits, or spend more time in clinic or nursery.

Our role is more for supervision and teaching, as the local residents do not have much pediatric experience. I am learning a lot from the residents as well, especially about specific endemic diseases and also how to best use limited medical resources.

Drs. Satrom and Slusher with two nursery nurses and another resident, Erin Young

There are a lot of volunteers who are coming and going. Currently there is an American adult nephrologist who is here to help set up peritoneal dialysis. We have had two interesting cases of nephrotic syndrome on the wards, so he has been a helpful consult.

This week, Dr. Peter Hesseling, a pediatric oncologist from South Africa, and his team are here. They have a Burkitt lymphoma protocol to deliver simple, low-cost treatment for children that can be used in rural hospitals. Their team has treated more than 900 cases of Burkitt's in this region of Africa so far.

There is also a 2nd-year pathology resident from Mayo here for 6 weeks, so it's been fun to hang out with her. My husband comes next week to help with some engineering projects, so I'm looking forward to that!

Drs. Slusher and Satrom on rounds on the wards

My first day on the wards, I saw a new diagnosis of Burkitt's lymphoma, intussusception, cerebral malaria x3, acute bilirubin encephalopathy, TB peritonitis, H. flu meningitis, and bilateral retinoblastoma, just to name a few

This 26-week preemie was born here and was stabilized on bubble CPAP, and is actually doing quite well. Dr. Slusher and I check in on her a few times a day and have had to be creative when the power goes out for extended periods of time.

I've also been able to observe and help Dr. Slusher teach the Helping Babies Breathe protocol to the local nurses. One of these nurses is visiting from another city and will bring back what she has learned to teach others. It's pretty neat to watch them learn about simple neonatal care and to know how big a difference that can make in infant mortality if done well!

I'll try to write additional posts with interesting cases and pictures. The internet connection isn't great, so sometimes it's hard get online and especially to upload photos.