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March 12, 2014     Chester Progressive
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March 12, 2014
 

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Chester Progressive, Westwood PinePress Wednesday, March 12, 2014 9A Nurse satisfies passion for surgery and travel in Chad Debra Moore Staff Writer dmoore@plumasnews.com Joan Woods Gately, an operating room nurse in Quincy, has two passions -- travel and surgery -- and she experienced both during her recent month-long trip to Chad, a country in north central Africa. The journey was long and the operating room short on technology, but Joan can't wait to return. Joan assisted three doctors in a 70-bed hospital that serves a population of approximately 200,000. To describe the facilities as primitive might be an overstatement. "There was no X-ray, no pathology, no EKG, not even matching retractors," she said. "There was just a portable ultrasound machine." Since there was no anesthesiologist, surgeries were performed with a spinal tap. "The patients were awake during the procedures," Joan said, which, during her stay, included a leg amputation, skin grafts, tumor removals, hernia operations and caesarian sections. Tylenol and Ibuprofen were the strongest pain relievers available. "It's incredible how much they do with so little," Joan said. Joan worked at B6r6 Adventist Hospital, in the same compound where her son, Zach, works for Adventist Health International as a health education worker. He travels the region talking about the importance of physical and oral hygiene, clean water and how to prevent malaria. Zach's life in Chad can be followed on his blog: zgately.com. A chance to see her son drew Joan to Chad. After the weather-delayed grueling trip, which included a 17-hour flight from Washington, D.C., to Ethiopia, Joan was happy to emerge from the airport to .see her son waiting for her across the street. The two boarded a bus to make the 10-hour trip to his African home. Joan spent the fh'st week helping missionaries construct metal buildings, while awaiting clearance to work in the hospital. Though it was the chance to see her son that prompted her visit to Chad, Joan had been intrigued about the chance to work in B6r6 after reading "Nasara: Dispatches from a district hospital in Chad," written by Dr. James Appel, the hospital's founder. (Nasara translates to white person or foreigner.) After serving seven years as the hospital's only doctor, Appel became the country director for Adventist Health International. Drs. Olen and Dena Nettenburg, graduates of Loma Linda University, now run the hospital along with Dena's father, Dr. Roland Bland. The three American doctors performed 202 surgeries in January; Joan assisted with 65 of them. The hospital didn't have staples so Joan sewed patients' incisions by hand. She used dissolvable sutures because many patients lived too far from the hospital to return for stitch removal. Dressed in matching outfits, a tradition in the African nation of Chad, Joan Woods Gately and her son, Zach Gately, hold two local children: Diana and Raisa. Photos submitted "I did lots and lots of sutures; we did surgery after surgery," Joan said. The hospital employs native nurses and a maintenance man, but there is no food service for the patients so families must help. "The families cook for the patients and live out under the mango trees," Joan said. "Really sick patients are in the hospital, then they are moved to the verandah, and then out under the trees." While neighboring villages have no running water or electricity, a generator powers the hospital and surrounding compound. Joan found her accommodations comfortable. While she worked in construction, she shared a two-person tent, but when she moved to the hospital, she lived in a small structure that included a bathroom and kitchenette. Joan described Chad as "very poverty-stricken," with most living in huts made of mud and straw. Natives subsist on a diet of rice and beans, some produce and a little meat. "The markets are sad," Joan said, with limited choices: carrots, mangos, squash, green tomatoes and a green leafy vegetable. Restaurants are mud huts with dirt floors. Guests gather around a round plate that features rice surrounded by a sauce made of various ingredients. People use their hands to scoop up the rice and Joan Woods Gately assists Dr. Roland Bland during surgery. Joan assisted with numerous procedures including caesarian sections, hernia surgery, an amputation and tumor removal. All work was done with the most basic of instruments and without anesthesia. Chad fast facts Location: North Central Africa Religion: Muslim and Christian Language: Arabic and French are official, but 120 languages and dialects are spoken Population: 10.3 million sauce. Joan was thankful that she packed a lot of instant oatmeal and granola bars. While she worked many hours, there was also time to visit a nomadic tribe dnd swim in the river. During the swim,' Joan kept her knees covered. The country is predominantly Muslim and though few women wear burkas, most wear long dresses, and scarves to cover their heads. Men wear baggy pants and long pajama-style shirts, while children wear little to nothing. All go barefoot or wear flip-flops. Fabrics are colorful and seamstresses Sew quickly. Because it's traditional for families to wear garments created with the same fabric, Joan and her son had matching garments made. When Joan returns to Chad she can take her matching dress, but even if her son moves on to a new missionary post, she plans to return to B6r6. HATCHET MTN. FOREST PRODUCTS ,"  . 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