Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Down Yonder at the Clinic

There have been a lot of big changes happening over at Bulembu Clinic in the past couple of months. Here is a summary of what’s been going down:


A new nurse/midwife from Siteki, Swaziland is joining the clinic team at the beginning of June. “We have a high volume of pregnant women that need prenatal care and our new midwife is very experienced and has been a unit manager on various labor wards internationally,” explains Clinic Manager, Niel. “Along with prenatal care she will be focusing on prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission as well as child vaccinations.”

The new midwife will bring the clinic staff to a grand total of seven: one midwife, two medical staff, one part-time medical consultant, two janitorial staff and one ambulance driver. With the Clinic team seeing over 40 patients each day the new midwife is a welcome addition to the staff.

Training, Training, Training

Bulembu Clinic Manager, Niel and Bulembu Director of Education and Training, Dennis Neville, have started an occupational health and safety committee. The committee will ensure that all departments within Bulembu are educated about and uphold basic standard health and safety precautions.

“We want to train all Bulembu employees to ensure that they work in a healthy environment,” says Niel. “Training will include hazard identification, certain precautions to take to prevent injury to life and damage to property, as well as basic first aid training.”

In addition, Niel and Wiseman, the Clinic’s nurse, are going to Johannesburg over the next two weekends to do courses in pediatric advanced life support and international trauma life support, both of which are accredited by the American Heart Association.

“These courses are intense,” says Niel. “They are vital qualifications for us to have because we are living and working in a rural community that is focusing on child care. To be able to provide superior service to our patients in these areas is key and this training will help us reach that level.”

Antiretroviral (ARV) Medication and HIV/AIDS Testing

“We are excited to say that we have free ARV medication available for all HIV/AIDS patients in Bulembu now,” says Niel.

Baylor Medical School (Texas, USA) has a clinic in Mbabane and provides all pediatric ARV medication and support at the Bulembu Clinic. In addition, a team from Pigg’s Peak Hospital has teamed up with the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP) at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health (New York, USA) to refill and dispense ARVs to all of Bulembu’s adult patients. Both teams come once per month and as a result of their generous support these drugs are provided to the Bulembu community at no cost to the patients or to BMS.

Testing for HIV/AIDS at the clinic is also on the rise as the testing rate has gone up from 14 patients/month to almost 70 patients/month since Christmas. “We have a prevalence rate of approximately 35% in Bulembu,” Niel says. “But the increase in testing shows us that people are more concerned with knowing their status and are also keen to be educated and equipped with the correct knowledge and resources to understand and act upon their HIV status.”

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Greener Pastures

There's an old adage that says, the grass is always greener on the other side. And here in Bulembu it definitely is greener over on the other side of town as the Bulembu Dairy has installed a new drag line irrigation system to ensure healthier pastures for the cows.

The system, just recently up and running, was installed over a period of three months by a team of pipe layers and tested by an external contractor.

The process? Two main pipes (110 mm and 160 mm) were laid down in the pastures. Off of the main pipes branch 40 mm pipes that feed water to the drag lines (above ground hoses) which attach to the actual sprinkler heads. (Below you can see the black drag line behind the sprinkler head, yes?).
The irrigation system covers the whole 15 hectare dairy property except for some of the steeper slopes.

“Currently we are in the winter and it is drier outside so we run the sprinklers six days a week,” says AJ, one of the Dairy hands. “In the summer season, however, we rarely use it because it rains so often. We’ll only turn it on if it hasn’t rained in over a week.”

There are 50 sprinkler heads. Each sprinkler uses 1,000 L of water per hour resulting in the whole system uses 50,000 L of water each hour and the water is taken from the same pump house as the Dvudvusi Orphan Homes on the far side of town. 

Sprinklers = healthy pastures = healthy cows = fresh milk = happy children! What more could we ask for?

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Cawmat Comes To Town

Say 'Hello' to Bulembu Timber's latest addition: the Cawmat Quad Resaw
“Down at the sawmill we’re doing a heart transplant of sorts,” says Bulembu Timber Manager Kurt Putkammer. “Yes, a heart transplant is the best comparison I can come up with.”

Naturally, such a metaphor warrants an explanation.

At the Bulembu Timber mill there is a machine that sits at the core of all sawmill functions: the Multi-Rip saw. A name like multi-rip inspires visions of an epic machine but in reality the Multi-Rip is inefficient – hence the transplant.
 Another angle on the Cawmat Quad Resaw
The Multi-Rip saw takes in slabs of timber and turns them into planks by cutting them with between four and nine saw blades. Each saw blade has a 5.5 mm kerf (tooth) and therefore 5.5 mm x (however many blades are running) of the slab turns into sawdust waste. 

Let’s say that the multi-rip runs four blades. 4 blades x 5.5mm kerf = 22.5 mm wide of waste.

The new saw, the Cawmat Quad Resaw’s equation is: 4 blades x 2.5mm kerf = 10 mm wide of waste.

That’s an increase in recovery of 12.5 mm per slab. On a wider slab it means a recovery of an additional plank.

“The Cawmat runs narrow bandsaw blades as opposed to the Multi-Rip’s circular saws,” Kurt explains. “It’s the difference in the type of blade each saw runs that makes for thinner sections of waste with the Cawmat.”

The bandsaw blades that are used in the Cawmat saw are also used in a number of other saws around the timber mill and as a result Bulembu Timber has already invested in on-site blade sharpening equipment. With the Multi-Rip, blades were sent away once a week to be sharpened.

The Cawmat Quad Resaw was manufactured by Cawmat Engineering in George, Western Cape, South Africa.
 Cawmat Quad Resaw's insides