Ear Centre continues to break new ground

To mark the WHO’s World Hearing Day 2021, here is an extract from our latest Today in Nepal magazine, where ear surgeon Mike Smith gave an update on what the past 12 months has been like for staff and patients in the Ear Centre at INF’s Green Pastures Hospital, Pokhara.

As the Ear Centre continues to break new ground for patients in Nepal, during 2020 the country’s first cochlear implant outside Kathmandu take place at the Ear Centre.

Nepal’s first cochlear implant outside Kathmandu took place at the Ear Centre in 2020.

Mike said: “2020 was a very strange year because I returned to the UK in March, having left on one of the last international flights out of Kathmandu as Nepal’s lockdown began. That was a hard decision – especially as it has now been 40 years since we first worked in Nepal – but at the time it seemed inadvisable to stay on my own in Pokhara. However, I have remained in touch with the team at Green Pastures nearly every day.

“Outpatient numbers at the Ear Centre dropped from up to 95 per day to about 30 initially, and three wards were used to isolate patients coming into Green Pastures while they waited for Covid test results.

“Despite those limitations, treating patients at the Ear Centre has continued throughout the year. The team also managed at least one surgery per day, and that has now risen to two on most days. By the end of October we were also back to about 50-60 outpatients per day plus hearing aid fittings and speech therapy.

“Plans have been delayed for launching a new outreach service doing hearing tests in the community and identifying cases for hospital referrals. Five staff were appointed but that will have to wait until the pandemic situation in Nepal is more stable.

“I hope to return to Nepal at least a couple of times over the next 12-18 months as we transition back to life in the UK and our time there draws to a close. Overall I have spent a total of over 17 years in Nepal, so it will always be very much in our prayers.”

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