Friday, August 13, 2010

Saying Goodbye to Dr's de jonge Vink's!

Today marks a sad day for Nkhoma Hospital, as well as for me personally. Dr. Naomi Vink, who has been a friend and colleague for four years here at Nkhoma, will depart Malawi to move on to new opportunities to Portugal with her husband, Erik. Both Naomi and Erik have made incredible strides for Nkhoma Hospital in their respective departments. Naomi has fostered the burn program and looked after the burn patients in my absence. For this I will be forever grateful. She always had a special way of handling the very youngest burn patients, who are the most difficult to treat, seeing the pain they must endure until they progress to healing. It was always a happy moment to see a picture sent to the US when she appeared in the picture with a smiling healed child! Dr. Vink later progressed to settle in the obstetrics and gynecology unit, where her extreme dedication has led to saving the lives of multiple new mothers and infants. Maternal mortality rates are amongst the highest in the world in Malawi, and Dr. Vink passionately tried to overturn these figures during her 4-year stay.
Equally as impactful, Dr. Erik has been instrumental in helping to shape the Public Health Department. Many new programs for safe motherhood and malaria prevention were initiated during his stay. The most visible change for Nkhoma Erik has made is starting an IT department. When I first arrived 4 years ago there was no chance of having the internet in Nkhoma. You had to travel 1.5 hrs on a dirt road, dodging cows and goats, to find access! Moreover, the first ever computerized data base is now functioning on each unit to assist with patient data and patient bills, which will progress to higher advances over the years to come, all because of Erik and his IT team.
Words cannot express the loss we will all feel on their departure. I know they will again return to see their work flourish over the years to come. Goodluck on your new adventures in Portugal, and we hope to visit one day!

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