Ed's first week at work

While Kate’s getting stuck into medicine at Kisiizi, I’ve been exploring work priorities for my time at the hospital.

The week started with a tour of the site from George, a retired soil scientist who spends about half the year here with his wife Doreen. He’s great at knowing all the non-medical staff, so I met the electricians, builders, porters, admin and accounts staff, and many other people too.

On Tuesday I had a meeting with Edson, who looks after the IT system here. He gave me the ‘techie’ tour and we discussed how we could improve the reach and resilience of the wireless network which serves the hospital. I also met my new boss, Moses, who is the Hospital Administrator. We ended up with quite a list of potential jobs for me.

I spent most of Wednesday with Charles Swainson, who heads the Kisiizi Power Company and is overseeing the building of a new hydroelectric power plant for the hospital and surrounding villages.

After these meetings and some time to think, I’ve got more of a clear idea about how the year might pan out. I need to confirm my plan with Moses, but I hope it’ll look like this:

Short- and medium-term

There are a number of projects or tasks which I can help with in the relatively short term. These include:

  • Overseeing the installation of a phone system for the hospital. They’ve had an exchange sitting in a container for 3 years and nobody has had time to properly investigate its functionality. On Friday I wired it up and proved it works – all that remains is for the electricians to pull in the cables around the building.
  • Working with Edson to improve the reach and reduce the complexity of the computer network. There are two satellite internet connections here – each attached to its own computer network, which is confusing. The wireless network reaches a proportion of the houses / buildings, but not a sufficient number to be truly useful. For example, there are some wards which can’t connect. I’m hoping we can re-purpose some of the existing kit (putting the access points on higher ground, for example) and augment it with some routers I’ve brought with me.
  • Helping with the upcoming golden jubilee arrangements. The hospital is expecting a number of VIPs including the president to attend the celebrations in the middle of November. One of the things I’ve been asked to help with is the production of a brochure. I might also wield my video camera if required.
  • Working with the electricians (Gideon and Herbert) to start a formal asset register and maintenance schedule for hospital equipment. This is something Moses feels is necessary pretty soon. I’m hoping a simple paper-based system will work well.

Longer term

In the longer term (after Christmas) I would like to be more involved in the Power Company. Charles is leaving in January, and there’s a requirement for someone to help set up the company office, and create procedures for selling electricity to the surrounding villages. Each house will have a meter which will (probably) take a card – the cards will be a bit like ‘pay as you go’ phones: you pay at the office and have them recharged with credit.

Obviously having me run the office wouldn’t be sustainable as we’re not here forever. If I do work on this, an important part of the job will be to hire and train a Ugandan to take over responsibilities.

Other bits and pieces

Of course, I’ll also be writing on this blog. I’d also like to finish and polish the Kisiizi website. I’d like to make use of the video camera to capture something of life here.

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