Gladstone Mater Hospital manager Pam Zions and operating nurse Julie Gudgeon have memories of the Solomon Islands
Gladstone Mater Hospital manager Pam Zions and operating nurse Julie Gudgeon have memories of the Solomon Islands

Mater staff help Pacific islanders

By ZOE SINCLAIRzoe@gladstoneobserver.com.au

GLADSTONE health professionals are taking their expertise and care to the world.

Mater Hospital general manager Pam Zions, operating theatre nurse Julie Gudgeon and QML lab assistant Margaret Bullen returned to work last week after spending time in the Solomon Islands.

Humbling, awakening and rewarding, was how they described their trip.

Ms Zions said she was amazed at the people's resourcefulness. "It really blew you away what they did with so little,'' Ms Zions said.

"It was confronting... I've been to other poor countries but nothing like this. "They had no examination light, no anaesthetic board, light bulbs take six weeks to get.

"One nurse said all she wanted was a canoe, an outboard motor and a raincoat, so she could treat people at the islands ? it's so hard to get to them.

"At one island we found two paraplegics. One guy was 83. He had a wheelchair but the tyres were flat and there was no pump.

"The people tried to treat him by putting him in hot coals as was their tradition.

"Because he was a paraplegic he couldn't feel anything and it burnt a big hole in his back.

"We found two wheelchairs back at the base... and we also sent books so they had something to do.''

Ms Zions said they were an hour and a half away from the capital, Honiara in the Western Province.

FOR both the staff and the Solomons people, it was the little things that counted.

"This year the staff brought in what they could and we took it to the Solomons,'' Ms Zions said.

"Babies' clothes, kids' books, fishing lines. Their needs are so basic.

"We took 70 pairs of spectacles, and they all tried them on until they found a pair they could see through.

"We took a lot of razors - the men were ecstatic.

"Kids got rubber bands which they use to play a game.

"They're happy, friendly, generous - one lady gave me this necklace that was part of her dowry.''

Ms Zions said the trip gave an insight into healthcare in different countries and would love to return.

A feature on the group's trip to the Solomon Islands will appear in The Observer's Weekend Magazine on Saturday.



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