Continuity of Care

By Volunteer Tracy Hoffstetter

Tracy Volunteer.jpg

My opportunity to engage at FAME came at the invitation of my aunt, Dr. Kim Hall FNP, DNP and the generous approval of Dr. Frank Artress and the volunteer coordination team at FAME.

I have been a registered nurse for 30 years with a specialization in neonatal intensive care for the last 21 years, but have never had the opportunity to serve anywhere abroad. This prospect was so exciting for me and I began my experience on July 30, 2019.  I really had no idea what to expect and was a bit worried that I would not bring anything of value to the table.

What I discovered very quickly was that FAME is an institution of inpatient and outpatient care that covers the entire age and wellness continuum and is staffed by highly trained and experienced staff.  Everyone was so warm and welcoming on my first day of reporting for work. That first morning, I participated in the medical inpatient rounds even though my area of interest is newborn medicine. All the mother/baby action happens when we reach ward 2, the Maternity Ward! This ward staff can do it all!!! They labor mothers, deliver babies, resuscitate and assess newborns and provide post partum care for the maternal/infant couplet after delivery.  Additionally, they are so kind and welcome the collaboration of the ever-changing rotation of volunteers.

On my first afternoon, I was invited to attend the last stage of labor and the delivery of a mother’s first baby. After an uncomplicated labor her full-term baby girl was delivered. The newborn assessment was perfect and the baby was placed with her mom to do all of the normal baby things!  When I saw that mother the next morning during rounds, I smiled at her, greeted her, and told her that her baby was pretty and doing well in my “best” Swahili. She rewarded me with the warmest smile of recognition! As her delivery and post partum course were uncomplicated, she and her baby were discharged after the second day. I treasured the brief connection that we had made.

The next week of duty flew by and I continued to be impressed by the level of care demonstrated by the staff of ward 2. On August 6th was the weekly “Well Baby Day” clinic and I was able to attend this under-five clinic where the new babies receive a check up and their vaccinations. I walked in to find a room full of mothers and babies of various ages waiting to be seen. In that crowd of faces was that same warm smile of recognition that I had seen in the ward the previous week! She was in the clinic to be seen for her one-week post partum check, baby assessment and breastfeeding support.  

What I discovered was that FAME serves the greater Karatu community with a comprehensive prenatal/post partum follow up clinic which provides breastfeeding support, family planning services and five years of well child care in one inclusive package. This continuity of care lays a tremendously strong foundation for a healthy community. Strong, healthy families equal strong healthy communities! FAME is making that happen and the word is getting out.

It is difficult for me to articulate the nuances of all the things I have seen and done. I arrived at FAME with a desire to make the most of this ONCE in a lifetime experience. But if my heart has its way, this will just be my FIRST in a lifetime experience. My deepest heartfelt thanks goes out to all of the wonderful staff and other volunteers at FAME whom I have had the privilege of meeting. Asante sana!

Robert Kovacs