There were no oxygen tanks for use in the entire hospital. We all collectively sighed but Dr. Perry had this under control as she paid for oxygen tanks to be delivered from an outside facility. We were back on track or, so we thought.
Okay, so something else went wrong. Scrubbed and ready to go for the first case, which was a cervical decompression Dr. Perry and Dr. Barnard were suddenly informed that the newly purchased oxygen tanks were empty and once again a delay in the OR. Frustrated the doctors removed their sterile gowns and caps and sat quietly wondering what else could delay this day in the OR and what they would tell their patients that have been waiting so long for their surgery.
Good news, good news! The tanks were not empty after all, they simply need to be unlocked appropriately. Nevertheless, the mishaps of the morning were water under the bridge and it was full speed ahead. Dr. Perry and Dr. Barnard scrubbed in once again and the first case began.
Soothing music permeated the room as the doctors operated with laser focus, it was a tremendous sight to behold and an experience I would never forget.
With no clinic scheduled for the day, the OR was the center of our day and Dr. Ryan Kotton naturally stepped into the OR as second assist to Dr. Barnard on a lumbar case, while Dr. Perry began the third case a 14-year-old girl with a congenital deformity of her spine at L1/2 with an 80-degree kyphotic angulation. Witnessing the precision and focus required for their craft in unreal and yet so real. I was also able to see how integral both Andrea our scrub tech and Max our Medtronic rep were to the success of every case.
Would you be shocked if I said the power went out for a fourth time? Well, it did but luckily Dr. Perry was closing on this patient and the RN Cindy jumped into action with the flashlight from her iphone to illumiante the area needed to finish the case, whew!! That was a close one.
With four power interuptions during surgery and oxygen running low, Dr. Perry decided that it was no longer safe to continue opearting, she simply could not and would not compromise the safety of her patients and would need to pull the plug on the last case of the day. Our 5th patient of the day was devasted about the news the her surgery was cancelled but her safety had to be priority number 1 above an elective procedure.
As an end of the day routine, the clinical team rounded to capture our post-op patients from the week despite the absence of a post surgical roster with their location.
Technically, today was our last day in the OR as the rolling strike continues in Uganda. Without an anesthesiologist we can no longer operate ☹. We tried to hire a private anesthesiologist and also asked for the chief resident to stay. He was willing to do so, however, the powers that be of the Mbarara Anesthesia team did not approve that.
After such a challenging day, we all decided to have dinner at Café Havana to unwind, reflect and enjoy each others company. Our dedication to serve our patients has been our number one priority since we arrived in Mbarara on Saturday and we have used enginuity to resolve setbacks both minor and major. However, we must know when it is time to pull the plug. Dr. Perry’s lesson of the day was that she very rarely says “no” but she had to say “no” today to prevent catastrophe from happening on her OR table. We were all extremely proud of her for the leadership she demonstrated and supported her decision 100%.