Recently, the Introduction to Primary Health Care school (IPHC) had the opportunity to experience first-hand the greatest miracle of all: life. While helping to attend to patients at Saint Margaret’s hospital, a woman in labour was admitted. The IPHC team, alongside hospital staff, attended to the woman. After gathering her medical history, the hospital administrator deemed her high risk. A referral was written for her to be taken to the larger hospital in Popendetta where doctors could take better care of her in case of emergency.
However, the vehicle that was meant to take her there was trapped on the other side of the river due to flooding. This courageous woman began to deliver. You would scarcely have known she was in labour save the small comforting rub she gave her stomach and back as the contractions came, along with the beads of sweat on her brow. She spoke next to no words; only a quiet nod as her mother-in-law asked if her water had broken minutes before. She quietly laid back and did what came naturally to her body. After delivering six babies before, she was accustomed to what was next.
At 10:28am on 24 April 2013, little baby Casey was born, and was named after IPHC leader, Casey Unruh! She got to assist in the delivery and also amazingly happens to have the same birthday as the baby! The IPHC reported that both mother and child are healthy and were able to rest well in the hospital afterward.
It was an amazing experience that every team member was honoured to be a part of. The river flooding is not a new occurrence; just before this mother arrived, one team member was checking on a mother who just hours before, delivered in a vehicle that was stuck due to flooding on her way to the hospital.
Home births are far from rare here in Papua New Guinea and unfortunately with this comes a high maternal mortality rate. Saint Margaret’s hospital and staff are a beacon of hope to the people of this area. The team felt privileged to work along side the nurses, nursing students, midwife, and healthcare workers that reside there. They learned so much, exchanged training, and built deep friendships through it all.