A combined team of Samoan overseas general practitioners, surgeons and anesthetists, mostly from New Zealand, are rounding up their final week of a two weeks voluntary help out at the TTM Hospital to give the local staff a working break.
Consulting surgeon in Adelaide, Australia, Leafitaitu Dr Jimmy Eteuati is at the 7-member team
His team is the second to follow in on a two weeks voluntary work arrangement under the Samoan Doctors Worldwide Volunteer Service (SDWVS).
Dr. Eteuati studied medicine in Australia before returning to work in Samoa from 2000 to 2003 at the TTM Hospital as a surgeon.
He returned for more specialised surgery training in Australia where he is now a consulting surgeon.
“I kept an interest in the measles epidemic because it was happening at home and because of the size of the disease,” Dr. Eteuati said.
“As a specialist surgeon I didn’t know how I can help until the emails for help were sent out by the SDWVS to all of us with Samoan links.”
The father of 5 children who is now raising his family in Australia paid his way like all the others under the voluntary service to travel to Samoa.
He has been staying with his home family, as all the other members of his team are doing also with their families until their work rotation period ends.
His Team 2 is taking over some of the workload from the local staff so they can rest up and recover from the ordeal they went through at the heights of the measles outbreak.
Most of his team is helping the local staff to re-start surgical operations which were put on hold during the measles epidemic response.
Other members of this team are general practitioners and are based in the APCC (Outpatients) area at the TTM Hospital, Moto’otua.
Dr. Eteuati dispelled the general belief that the long working hours are exhausting to the medical staff but are not affected too much by the emotions of the work.
“ The medical staff have empathy too and this can take a stressful emotional toll on them in addition to the physical drain as well.
“Mental exhaustion sets in from the emotions the doctors and nurses share with the families of a patient who dies.”
The death toll from the measles epidemic was last recorded at 83.
Doctors and other medical staff members who are practicing outside Samoa are lined up for rotational team duties under SDWVS, all the way to March this year.
Leader for Team One, who started the service support assistance, Leota Dr. Lisi Petaia, returned to New Zealand at the weekend, after her tour of duty ended.
Her co-organiser of the SDWVS and team rotation is still in Samoa to co-ordinate the teams.
Faumuina Associate Professor Fa’afetai Sopoaga of the Otago University is manning the operational base at the Otago University House inside the NUS compound at Vaivase- tai.