Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Gerald is a new but smiling face here at St Martin de Porres Hospital.  He grew up in Ashing which is 8 miles from Njinikom.  After Secondary school he spent 3 years in Bamenda obtaining his Nursing Diploma.  He the worked at a small health center for 1 year before spending 1 year in the capital, Yaoundé, finishing his Nursing Degree.
He began working in the Surgical Ward last October.  Last month he was promoted to a compound nurse.  The compound nurses fulfill the role of ER physicians here.  They see any patient who arrives at the hospital between 2 PM and 8 AM.  They also see any inpatient having problems.  They then call the on-call physician for any serious problems.  Gerald has exhibited very good skills in the short time he has been a compound nurse.
Gerald is 26 years old and is single.  Reading is his hobby and he particularly likes to read Health related books in order to be “current”.  He has never traveled outside of Cameroon.
His goal is to be a Surgical Nurse.  He equally enjoys working on the surgical ward or in the theatre.  With his pleasant personality and dedication I have full confidence Gerald will be an excellent Surgical Nurse.

Friday, February 24, 2012

For we are God’s helpers

 At completion of the MDA and LMH Formation Program all participants are presented with a ring with the inscription “for we are God’s helpers”.  Terry and I have been proudly wearing our rings for nearly 2 years now.
I previously have written about Julius.  He is 16 years old and has Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis.  Julius developed multiple open sores of both legs and spent 3 years at St Martin de Porres Hospital suffering through very painful daily dressing changes.  Over the last year I consulted several Doctors in the USA and was able to diagnose his leg problem as Pyoderma Gangrenosum.  Using donor funds to MDA I was able to get medication from the USA and his leg wounds dramatically improved and he was finally able to be discharged home in November.  At a recent follow up visit I found out that Julius(who is non-mobile from his JRA) spends most of his day sitting on his bed alone while his mother sells vegetables in town.
With the help of Carol Clementi(a Mercy Associate who is here this month helping children in the orphanage and hospital) we set out for Bamenda last Saturday in search of a wheelchair for Julius.  Through a variety of circumstances we ended up at a small used tire shop looking for a spare tire for the hospital pickup.  We were left to wait in the truck while our driver and a mechanic went in search of the elusive tire.  Suddenly a wheelchair was rolled out of the tire shop soon followed by a second wheelchair.  Both chairs were in very good condition and we were able to secure both of them for a very decent price again using donor funds.  After cleaning the chairs up and getting a seat cushion made this week today was chosen as the day to deliver the wheelchair.
With the help of one the hospital nurses and driver we made our way on a steep and winding dirt path in the hospital 4 wheel drive truck.  The road finally ended at a narrow bridge and we pushed the wheelchair up an even steeper hill for another half mile until reaching the compound were Julius is staying now with his uncle.
While doing mission work people say they receive more than they give.  Today was an example of that as we were able to witness the joy Julius exhibited after receiving his wheelchair.  After bringing him outside he was like a little child with a new tricycle wheeling himself back and forth across the packed dirt of the compound area.  He stated that this was the “best day of his life”.  Thank you to all of you that enabled us to be with Julius today.  A small amount of donated money dramatically changed Julius’ life today.

Julius on his bed where he spent most of his day
Julius and Carol in the Sun

Friday, February 17, 2012

What goes Around, Comes Around

Dr Jim and Suzanne
Recently a young lady named Suzanne approached me as I was walking between Hospital Wards.  She explained that she had delivered 10 days earlier but still owed approximately $40 for her hospital bill.  She asked if I could intercede on her behalf as her mother was gravely ill at home.  She was not requesting that I pay her bill but only that I would plead her case to the Matron so she could go home and return to pay her bill when she had the money.  Using money from our Donors I paid her bill so she could go home to attend her mother.
This week Suzanne returned to the Hospital with $40 in hand to settle her bill.  I thanked her for her effort to repay the money but refused to take anything from her.  Instead I asked her to help someone else when they were in need.  I hope that $40 will continue to be passed on for some time.  Thank you Donors for all you allow me to do here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Lillian is one of the people I always enjoy seeing at the hospital because she is always wearing an ear to ear smile.  She worked at Project Hope since 2006 and plays a big role in managing  over 1000 HIV patients.  She is involved in enrolling new HIV patients, counseling HIV patients and their families, administering their medications monthly and monitoring all aspects of their treatment.  She also assists in management of our TB patients.  She enjoys all aspects of her job.
Lillian was born and raised in Bamenda where her parents still reside.  She is a member of the Bafut Tribe and has 5 siblings, all boys, making her the princess of her family.  After finishing our equivalency of high school she completed a 2 year Professional Course in Social Work and earned her Diploma.
Her Hobbies include watching movies and football, listening to music and reading.  She recently joined the hospital choir and is enjoying the camaraderie with other staff members.  She has never traveled Outside of Cameroon.  Some day she would liken to further her studies in the area of Gender Studies.
Lillian was one of three people named “Outstanding Employee of 2011” at the hospital.

Lillian counseling a HIV patient and family 
Emceeing Hospital Feast Day Program

Saturday, February 11, 2012


I wrote about Samuel in November.  He was admitted then with HIV and Toxoplasmosis Encephalitis.  He was extremely confused at that time and after 1 week of treatment he mentally cleared and we got to know Sam as a delightful man always with a smile on his face.  He was able to go home and complete his 6 weeks of Toxoplasmosis treatment.  I had planned to start him on HIV medications last month but due to the absence of government supplied medications that did not happen.  Samuel was readmitted on Monday confused again, along with fever and cough.  His tests showed that he now has Tuberculosis and Cryptococcal Meningitis.  Samuel obviously has tremendous inner strength as after only 2 days of medication he is doing much better and the smile has returned to his face.  If medications become available he will be started on HIV drugs in 2 weeks.  Pray for Samuel and all the other patients in need of medications that the supply lines will open.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Last Friday 2 ladies brought in 1 year old Yvette and 7 year old Kelly Bright.  The girls are cousins, both are being raised by Aunts as both mothers died from HIV.

Kelly Bright is the size of a 3 year old instead of that of a seven year old.  Despite eating well she has not grown much and her hair was typical of children with malnutrition.  Her brother is already on medication for HIV so it was no surprise that she is also HIV positive.  Her CD4 is 699 which is much higher than what I would have expected.  Because of her growth retardation we will begin HIV medications and pray that she will thrive.

Yvette was as malnourished as any child I have seen in the 19 months that I have been in Cameroon.  She was eating very little accounting for her physical appearance.  Surprisingly her HIV test was negative.  I ordered a repeat test for today but unfortunately Yvette passed away during the night.  A few days of tube feedings was not enough to stop her steady decline.

Pray for Yvette and Kelly Bright, their deceased mothers, and their extended family who have been caring for them.

Kelly Bright

Friday, February 3, 2012

Traditional Healer

Aloysius came in for a refill of his HIV medication today.  As I obtained his history I discovered he was a Traditional Healer.  He agreed to a personal interview for the blog.  He is 56 years old and has been married 4 times.  One wife died, one left and two remain at home with him.  He admitted neither of his remaining wives has been tested for HIV but he promised to bring them in with him next month.  His father was also a Traditional Healer and Aloysius began on the job training with his father when he was 12 years old.
The 2 ailments he sees most often in his patients are “belly bite” and infertility.  He is most interested in patients with “belly bite” or insomnia.  I inquired if many patients come to him for Malaria.  He replied that many came but the malady is not one he likes because it requires “much time to fix”.  He boils a concoction of herbs for his malaria treatment.  His fee for a consultation is one chicken and a ounce of castor oil.
Aloysius has not traveled outside of Cameroon and his hobby is working on his farm.  Most farms here are what we would consider large gardens at home.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

When it Rains it Pours

A full cupboard of HIV medications
When it rains it pours   Monday and Tuesday we had the first rain in 3 months.The dry season will normally extend into March.  This brief respite from the dust seemed to trigger a downpour of HIV patients.  I have had 15 new HIV patients in the last 4 days where I normally see 1-2 per day.  The paradox of this influx is that the hospital has been without HIV medications for 3 weeks.  The government supplies the medications free of charge or least that is the plan.  We experience shortages often but never previously like this.

Much time is spent counseling patients on the need to take their medications every day.  We are all concerned that this inability to get medications will have some serious long term effects with increased resistance to medications and less patient compliance.  Join us here in Cameroon praying that these medications will find their way to the people that need them.