by Ashley Henderson
The medical clinic located in the Evangelical Church of Korce was created to provide professional-level care that is otherwise not provided in the Korce area. The nurses treat up to fifty people per day and twenty of those patients are cared for in their homes. This past week, I shadowed one of the nurses, Emel, to see what a day of home care looks like. The following is what I observed.
Our first stop was in a village about 10 minutes outside of Korçë. I stood in the corner watching Emel prepare three bandages of varying sizes with petroleum jelly, Betadine ointment, and white powder. I stood with my camera around my neck watching intently. Emel then asked the patient if he was ready. He slowly and painfully leaned forward in his place on the couch and turned belly down putting his weight on the armrest so his backside was facing the nurse. The patient’s wife pulled his shirt up and his pants down and I buckled down preparing for what was to come. Emel removed the three bandages that were on his bottom to reveal three gaping holes; all of them a few inches apart. As she lifted the bandages, steam arose from the wounds. I could see inside of his body. It was dark and red. After undressing the wound, Emel prepares to redress it. She cleaned each wound and wiped away any blood. Next, she placed a gauze sheet in each hole and taped the bandages over each wound.
The next visit was quick and took half the time as the first visit. The wound was less appalling than the first, but the smell that filled the room when Emel removed the woman’s diaper was hard to stomach.
The third patient was much like the first; suffering from bedsores. As Emel prepared the bandages, the patient’s mother removed her blanket and what lay underneath was the skinniest woman I have ever seen in my life. There was no fat or muscle on her legs only saggy skin. As I scanned from her thighs down to her feet, the skin on her shins became tighter and I could see the shape of her bones.
Before entering the next house, Emel informed me that the woman had breast cancer and that she has many wounds on her body. When the door to the main room opened I was not met with an unpleasant smell like the other houses but a wave of heat hit me instead. The first wound Emel cared for was one on the bottom of the woman’s foot. It was about five inches long and pale yellow, green, and brown. This patient’s left leg seemed to be disjointed. When she lay flat on her back her left knee was tucked under her right leg and when she rolled over to her left side the leg stayed exactly the same.
About 17 minutes into the visit, while Emel was cleaning two wounds on the woman’s back I became slightly light-headed. Wounds and blood usually don’t have an effect on me but I must admit that the combination of the long term exposure to the wounds and the uncomfortably hot room made the world spin and small black spots cloud the corners of my vision. I excused myself and rushed outside into the cool air.
Standing in the open-air waiting for Emel to finish, I thought about all I had seen and experienced. The nurses that work at the center, care for wounds like this every single day. They endure the sights and emotions of dealing with bed-ridden patients suffering from worst-case wounds and sicknesses. Jesus had compassion for the sick and so does the church (Matthew 14:14). God has gifted these nurses with the skills necessary to put their compassion to action in this way. God has called them to this mission field. The mission field of bandages, antiseptics, and petroleum jelly. Praise God for their commitment and perseverance. Please help these nurses continue to provide care by donating here.