Locally-trained specialists deliver emergency care beyond the walls of the hospital

Emergency care at CWM Hospital is provided by a highly skilled team of expert doctors and nurses. They include specialists in emergency medicine – doctors who have completed a four-year Master’s degree in Emergency Medicine at the Fiji National University.
The FNU Masters programme was developed under the guidance of Dr Anne Creaton, an emergency physician from Australia. It is now run by Dr Dennis Lee, who trained in Emergency Medicine in Papua New Guinea with support by visiting specialists from Australia, New Zealand, UK and USA. The first six doctors graduated from the FNU Masters programme in 2016.
Emergencies don’t just happen in our capital city however so the team at CWM Hospital also offers support, advice and training for staff in smaller health facilities around the country. The following case, which took place recently, is not unusual and illustrates how effective teamwork can be.
Josaia (not his real name) is 56 years old. At home one evening he experienced chest pain. The pain gradually eased but in the middle of the night it suddenly got worse again. He felt his heart racing and he was sweating heavily. He rushed to Nausori Health and was assessed by the Medical Officer on duty who found he was critically unwell with a dangerously high heart rate and abnormal heartbeat.
The Medical Officer immediately called the Emergency Department at CWM Hospital for advice and was told that Josaia required cardioversion, a procedure where electrical energy is applied to the heart to return its rhythm to normal. The staff at Nausori were not expert at the procedure but Dr Deepak Sharma, the emergency medicine specialist at CWM Hospital was able to guide them through what was required. The staff at Nausori then explained the procedure to the Josaia and his wife and Dr Sharma remained on the phone to provide continuous support while it was carried out.
The procedure was a success and Josaia’s condition stabilised while he was at Nausori Health Centre. Dr Sharma then sent one of the emergency team to bring the patient back to CWM Hospital by ambulance but when he arrived it became apparent that he was having a heart attack. He was treated with a special clot busting drug after which his condition stabilised and he was admitted to the coronary care unit.
Josaia remains well and was able to leave hospital after a couple of days. His experience is a good illustration of how our locally-trained emergency medicine specialists, their colleagues in CWM Hospital and doctors and nurses elsewhere in the system are working together and using their skills to save lives every day.