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Pregnancy, Pre-Eclampsia, and the Pandemic

Pre-Eclampsia is a pregnancy complication that effects some women, usually in the second half of pregnancy. Due to many our consultations being pregnant women, we are always on the lookout for this complication.

Last week, we had a patient referred to us from a nearby health center for an ultrasound. She was 35 weeks pregnant and it appeared to be a normal prenatal checkup until I pulled her into triage to check her blood pressure……234/118! As you all know, a normal blood pressure is 120/80. At first, I thought that the machine had surely read the pressure wrong, so I did a manual check with my stethoscope and a BP cuff……240/120! At that point I immediately called in Dr. Martin to let him know what was going on. He called for a urinalysis to check for protein in the urine (another sign of pre-eclampsia) and we began trying to lower her BP. The only cure for this complication is to deliver the baby so Dr. Martin contacted the hospital in La Ceiba to schedule an emergency C-section.

An hour later, after giving her Aldomet (a medication to lower her BP) and monitoring mom and baby she asked if she could go to the bathroom. As she was coming out, she said “nurse my stomach hurts and I think my water just broke.” Sure enough, this sweet lady had gone into labor! At this point the only thing we could do was drive her to the hospital in the city because we are not doing surgeries yet. We quickly gathered the supplies we needed and Dr. Martin drove off with the lady and her husband, while Ms. Wendy and I stayed back to give the rest of the patients appointments to come back.

Driving to La Ceiba from Rio Viejo normally takes about an hour, but Dr. Martin made it in record time. During the ride down the patient began feeling stronger contractions and the need to push. Keep in mind she had only been in labor for about 30 minutes. As they were nearing the last village, she told her husband to take off her clothes because the baby was coming!! Dr. Martin began to feel the panic, not wanting to deliver a baby in the vehicle, and started driving faster. As they arrived at the hospital she was crowning. Thankfully, the staff was waiting outside with a gurney to take her immediately inside. Minutes later she delivered a healthy baby girl. We are thankful that both mom and baby are doing well, and that God protected everyone in this situation!

Here are a few other updates from the jungle:

  • Before the pandemic began in March, we had a group from City Hope College who helped us host the third Teacher’s Conference here at the Jungle Hospital. The teachers from our entire Cuenca area participated – almost 100 teachers! The week was filled with dancing, laughter, door prizes, gifts and ended with an amazing opportunity to hear an encouraging word about our Savior.
  • We are in quarantine here as well due to the pandemic. The country was shut down completely March 16th and I was “stuck” on the mountain for 10 weeks without leaving the compound. No walks to the river, no grocery shopping, nada.  Talk about going stir crazy! A system was put in place that you could begin circulating one day every two weeks according to the last digit of your ID, so we were finally able to buy groceries again once every two weeks. Masks are required and before you enter any business, they check your temperature, ID number and provide you with gel to clean your hands. Our area also has a military checkpoint at the bottom of the road that checks your ID to make sure it is your day to circulate. On the way home, they make every person get out of their vehicle and they spray you and the vehicle down with a bleach solution. They are being very thorough. The government has now put in place a four-phase system for reopening the country and we are currently in Phase 0. Thankfully, we discovered that with our government issued medical ID’s we can go to the city more often if needed. However, the borders remain closed as well as all airports.
  • All medical and educational teams have been cancelled for the entire year due to do the virus, which means all our medications are stuck in the U.S. Normally our teams bring down enough medicine and supplies for us to operate a full year. Our interns were also unable to come for the summer. That leaves just the three of us here (Dr. Martin, Ms. Wendy, and me) running the hospital and keeping construction going.
  • We have delivered two beautiful babies during the pandemic with more soon to come!
  • The expansion project is still in full swing. Construction has taken a bit longer than expected due to the pandemic, but progress is surely being made. The machines came back in June to finish leveling the 8 acres of property where we will build the new family housing. A gate has also been created that connects the current hospital property to the new family housing property. The next step will be securing the property with a fence and starting the construction of the first two houses. That will all take place this year! The volunteer apartments are progressing. The first-floor apartment will soon have the doors, tile and windows installed. Unfortunately, the second-floor apartment is in a holding pattern because of borders being closed. As soon as visitors can enter in the country again, we will have a construction team come to continue work on the second floor.

Thank you all for your continued support and prayers! If you feel led to pray, here are a few specific things to pray for:

  1. Continued protection for our staff as we see patients through the pandemic.
  2. Open airports and borders so we can bring much needed medicine & supplies from the US.
  3. Pray for the people of Honduras.
  4. Pray for wisdom for the government during this time of uncertainty.

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