The mobile clinic visits Isibani twice a month and since we started working so closely together there has been a huge improvement in the level of service. The Isibani health team are able to make sure that we screen all patients and do vital signs to make things easier for the clinic staff. Because we are able to do the initial screening the clinic staff are able to see many patients each day, +/- 300 per clinic day. After we have done the screening we make sure that those who are very sick are seen first so that they can be sent to hospital for further management.
In addition to the twice monthly clinic days, the pharmacist from our local hospital, Emmaus, also comes every other Monday to hand out chronic medication including ARV’s. This is far more convenient for our clients as they live in and around Winterton and on surrounding farms and a trip to Emmaus hospital is expensive and time consuming. We have seen that having medication easily accessible helps to minimize the number of defaulters.
The Isibani health team is also on hand to screen patients and to ensure that those who have side effects and develop other sickness are referred to hospital. This is particularly important because we have seen clients become resistant to treatment and develop other diseases which need to be treated immediately to prevent complications.
When people come to the clinic or to collect their medication we make sure we give health education on different topics, we have found this to be very effective and our clients are happy to participate.
HCT (HIV counselling and testing) and adherence training
It is so good for us to see that there are more people who come for testing especially males as they have been a reluctant group in the past. Even if they test positive we are seeing a change in attitude where they take their status more seriously, listen to our advice and ensure they start on treatment.
It is not good that people are still living lives that expose them to the risk of HIV but if they do choose to risk exposure we are thankful at least that they choose to take action to know their status.
We also do patient literacy, this is a workshop attended by all clients who have tested positive and is compulsory before they start on ARV treatment. The purpose of the workshop is to help clients understand the importance of adherence to the treatment and to be aware of minor and major side effects. It also helps them to know the danger of not taking treatment properly or defaulting. We make sure that we do further adherence training with those who have defaulted the treatment and try to identify the reason for their default..
This year in March, we had a male client who came in having had half of his foot amputated. The wound was so bad and smelly that it was the first time for both of us to see something as bad as that. The good news, though, is that with regular cleaning and dressing changes the wound completely healed and the client is so very happy.
Whilst doing home visits around the township we came across another client who is diabetic, she had very bad sores (ulcers) on her left leg. She had been advised that she may need an amputation but she decided to stay at home until we were able to visit here. Again with regular cleaning and dressing changers the healing is going very well. There are so many other dressings we are doing and we are so proud that they we have been able to help so many people.
For most people a trip to Emmaus Hospital is expensive, impractical and can involve very long waiting times. That is why so many people after surgery or treatment fail to return for dressing changes. We are always happy to help with these cases as we have seen so many times the importance of keeping wounds clean so they can heal properly and not cause further infections.
We spend at least four days each week conducting home visits to our clients. They may be people who are just starting treatment, those who are very sick or some who are disabled. For us it is so good that we have a lot of time to see our clients and to spend time with them, not just dealing with the medical condition but talking with them, praying with them and sharing the word of God with them.
Every time we see a client we pray to God for His mercy because we cannot do this work on our own. It is only possible because He is our pillar of strength. Without God, there is no way to do anything.