Dr. Elisabeth Stempel reports from past adventures
Sunday lunch; an illustrious group is sitting around our dining room table. On the left is Dr Elisabeth Stempel who is working as an anaesthetist at the Hospital Diospi Suyana for the third time. Sitting next to her are three German medical students who listen eagerly to events that happened a quarter of a century ago. On the right Martina John is pleased that her guests are enjoying her food.
Dr Stempel was born in the former DDR. Her father was a protestant parson, reason enough for the socialist regime to give Elisabeth a hard time as she tried to qualify as a doctor. But God always has a way and the pastor’s daughter, hailing from Meißen, made it to become a doctor with intellect and emotion.
Shortly after reunification the anaesthetist accepted the biggest challenge in her life: she was the only doctor in charge of a missionary hospital in Papua New Guinea. For four years she bore this responsibility all by herself. She administered narcoses and performed the operations herself. Hearing such stories the students sitting behind their empty soup bowls simply could not shut their mouths. Tempora mutantur et nos cum illis. Or is it really so?
Even in 2019 many missionary hospital only have one doctor in charge and many hospitals in Africa do not even have any medical professionals. In these cases the nurses do all they can, but in such contexts manpower, equipment and money are sorely needed.
The conversation soon turns to the bureaucracy found in German clinics. Not infrequently are pointless procedures performed in order to get money from the health insurance funds. Prosperity medicine that turns the blessing of modern medical cover into an absurd waste.
One could say Diospi Suyana lies somewhere between Papua New Guinea and Western Europe. We operate good medicine and at the same time try to use our resources responsibly. We provide our poor patients with high quality medical care without speculating on health insurance funds to foot their bills. The Hospital Diospi Suyana is also not perfect, but strives to be as good as possible. /KDJ