Kareena Private Hospital
Part of Ramsay Health Care

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Special Care - Special Person

Mar 01, 2007

For some people relaxing on a tropical beach is their idea of a great holiday – for others it’s skiing in an exotic location, but for Jo Mahoney, Special Care Clinical Nurse Specialist at Kareena Private Hospital in South Sydney, her idea of a holiday is to volunteer in the Papua New Guinea Highlands as part of a Rotary International Miranda Branch project.

The people from the Simbu province where Jo volunteered, had first seen white people in 1954 and gave up head hunting (and we’re not talking jobs) in the 1970s. Jo’s priorities were to provide nurse education on cardio pulmonary resuscitation and identify improvements in the special care nursery. Obviously this takes enormous lateral thinking capabilities in a hospital with one thermometer per 36 patients and where illnesses such as TB, polio, AIDS, malaria, meningitis and STDs are all too common.

Jo taught infant CPR education to the local nurses and this new knowledge saved several babies in the short time Jo was there. Infant mortality is very high with three babies dying in the first week she was there.

In rural PNG improvising becomes a necessity. Jo amazed the locals by getting a delivery bed working again without the aid of rust dissolving Rocket 40 by simply freeing it up using a simple soap and water solution.

Teaching staff how to make a simple salt and water solution to sterilize newborn equipment, provided improved protection particularly when commercial sterilizing solutions are in short supply and regularly run out.

Jo was delighted with the wonderful response from her colleagues at Kareena Private Hospitals Women’s Health department, who, after hearing about her experiences, generously donated money for ‘Milton’ tablets to be bought for the next consignment of medical equipment to be sent to Kundiawa Hospital. They also bought two clocks for the nursery so that the staff can take accurate pulse rates using the second hand as some staff do not own watches.

“My grateful thanks to all the staff in the Special Care Nursery / Women’s Health department who have been touched by my experience at Kundiawa Hospital and decided to take positive action to help their equipment-poor colleagues in PNG,” said Jo.

Jo who became affectionately known as Sister Joey, was a huge hit with the local people. The trip was organised by Dr Ron Summers and his wife Ray who have been going to this area twice a year for ten years and are always eager for new volunteers, both doctors and nurses to continue this vital service.

Jo concluded, “If you have a sense of adventure you will love this experience of a lifetime. The babies and the mothers will steal your heart with their warmth and friendship, which more than makes up for the lack of facilities available.”