Remembering Naggalama

Written by Nikolas Moring '20

It’s been a few months since I returned from Naggalama. For better or for worse, I made the decision to leave early, and in doing so prioritized my health and well-being. It was not an easy choice. I spent many sleepless nights trying to figure out if I was about to squander away one of the best opportunities I’ve ever been given. It can be challenging to admit that you are not strong enough, not resilient enough, or just not cut out to complete the task set before you. That being said, I left a part of me with the people I met in Uganda, and a big chunk of that lives in St. Francis Hospital.


First Experience With Global Medicine

Written by Dr. Swati Patel, resident at the Connecticut Institute for Communities/Greater Danbury Internal Medicine Residency Program

I was interested in science and medicine at a young age. As I grew older, I realized how much I love interacting with people and building relationships. Medicine offered a career for both my talents and interests.  Although I had known about global health prior to college, it was during my undergraduate career that I first learned more about what it entailed. I was part of various school organizations, some of which would take students abroad and offer medical services, though I did not get the opportunity to participate in these  programs.

Happyness: Advocating for Women’s Health in Rural Uganda

Written by Anne Dougherty, MD, Assistant Professor at UVM Robert Larner, MD College of Medicine, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, and founder and director of the UVM Global Women’s Health Education Program

Let me tell you a story about Happyness. Happyness is a young woman living in rural Nakaseke district about sixty miles outside Kampala, Uganda’s capital. She just had her second baby who was born premature, and will likely not survive to his fifth birthday.  This pregnancy was conceived eight months after her last delivery, though we know that rapid repeat pregnancy, those conceived less than twenty-four months following a delivery, have dire consequences for both mother and baby.

Patience, Creativity, and Perseverance

Written by Katie Grenoble '20

The six weeks I spent with physicians and clinical officers in Uganda were a lesson in the fundamentals of medicine. In Uganda, doctors do not enjoy the luxury of being able to order any lab test they may need. Imaging is often performed off-site and rarely returned with an interpretation. Medications are purchased only if the patient can afford them, and the two EKG machines I saw seen were donated by Danbury Hospital in Connecticut. Doctors in Uganda must be exceptional at history taking and physical exams.

A Beacon of Hope and Light

Written by Nikolas Moring '20

One week in Naggalama down. I can’t believe it. It seems like we just arrived here  yesterday. My first week in Uganda has been so different from what I had ever expected. I don’t even know where to begin. I spent countless nights trying to imagine what this experience was going to be, but knew from the beginning that was a fruitless exercise. Upon arriving, that was confirmed. It is simply so unique, and so different, that there was no way to even begin to project or predict what it would be like.

The Uncertainty of Medicine

Written by Melvin Philip, M.D., medical resident at the Greater Danbury Community Health Center Internal Medicine Residency Program

Naggalama has become my “home away from home.” A small community hospital run by Sister Jane, St. Francis Hospital caters to the underprivileged villages of Naggalama and is contained within a small Christian community consisting of a primary and secondary school, a nursery, a church, and housing for hospital staff. The medical director, Dr. Otim, has been our guide and resource in introducing us to the art of medicine in Uganda. The faculty have welcomed us with open arms.

The Qualities That Make a Surgeon Great

Written by Bryce Bludevich, M.D. '17

He was a young man with a seemingly bright future ahead of him, a university student with a loving family. He was only twenty years old when he came to Mulago Hospital. He was skin and bones by the time he had arrived, his eyes sunken and blank as if he knew the end was in sight. Under his thin bedcovers lay the source of his malady: an open midline incision. The suture lay exposed, along with his spleen and small bowel. His tattered skin crisscrossed over his open abdomen, the edges of his incision well worn. He had multiple enterocutaneous fistulas.

Have You Ever Lived Like This?

Written by Katherine Wang, M.D. '17

It’s hard to believe that it’s been less than a week since we arrived home. It simultaneously feels like I’ve been back for an eternity, Uganda a distant memory, and like I was just there yesterday. Home is such a vastly different place—from the weather and physical setting to the people and customs. On the flip side, it is so familiar that it has been easy to settle back into the routine, hopping back into a car to drive on the right side of the road, and working out on the treadmill. I almost wonder if it’s been too easy, given the prevalence of reverse culture shock. Maybe it just hasn’t set in yet, but I am certainly happy to be home as well.

Noticeably Absent

Written by Erin Pichiotino, M.D. '17, M.P.H.

Orthopedic Trauma rounds are every Monday morning. We visit each and every patient, take down dressings to look at wounds, review x-rays, and as a team come up with a plan for the week. Other than that, the orthopedic officers and nurses are responsible for following the plan, performing wound care, administering antibiotics and otherwise managing the patient, consulting the surgeons if and when necessary for proper patient care. The day-to-day needs of the patient including procuring implants and medications, bathing, feeding, and physical therapy if needed are taken care of by the caretaker, friends and family members who come to the hospital to help. Most of these caretakers sleep outside the hospital on the concrete, washing and cooking in the open space between wards.