Biomed trip to PNG saving lives

When Cabrini Outreach needed someone to repair medical equipment in Papua New Guinea’s Madang Provincial Hospital, Cabrini Technology Group’s Tim Staker knew just who to call.

Greg Niedzielski is Cabrini Technology Group’s Regional Operations Manager for South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory for the Chemtronics Biomedical Engineering division. Greg has more than 20 years biomedical engineering management and operational management experience across both private and public healthcare sectors, and importantly, he knows the developing country context.

Greg has developed a love for the Asia-Pacific region because his partner Kim is of Vietnamese heritage. After a number of return trips to Vietnam visiting a school for vision-impaired children where Kim previously taught, Greg started using his annual leave to install and repair medical equipment in Da Nang.  Greg has since been volunteering his time and skills at Da Nang’s Hospital for Women and Children a couple of times a year for the past three years.

Despite already giving so much of his time, Greg was happy to put his hand up for the visit to PNG alongside Cabrini Outreach General Manager, Tom Roth. Greg’s task was by no means a small one. When Cabrini Outreach staff last visited Madang Provincial Hospital – a 270-bed facility servicing a population of more than 500,000 – they found three of four anaesthetic machines out of action, as were the operating lights in all four theatres. When critical medical equipment fails in a country like PNG where the health system is already under enormous strain and resources are scarce, patient health outcomes and lives are put on the line.   

Cabrini Outreach has a strong partnership with Madang Provincial Hospital and the Madang Provincial Health Authority to strengthen the capacity of staff and systems to deliver healthcare that meets the needs of local Papua New Guineans.

During Greg’s four-day visit, he and PNG biomedical engineers Samuel and Brendon went above and beyond to complete a truly remarkable volume of work. In addition to repairing the anaesthetic machines and theatre lights, they repaired or diagnosed for follow-up repair problems relating to the oxygen manifold (used to supply oxygen to the hospital), oxygen alarm, tourniquet machine, X-ray machine, ICU ventilators, vacuum pump system, blood analyser, centrifuge, ECG machine, ultrasound machine and other equipment too numerous to list. Together with Greg, Samuel and Brendon are now looking at how they can support ongoing maintenance of medical equipment including through enabling access to spare parts and technical training.  

PNG biomedical engineers

Greg, Samuel and Brendon have developed an ongoing relationship that not only supports Madang but also allows Greg to learn from local ingenuity. The three use video technology to share information and trouble-shoot problems while they await Greg’s next visit to PNG.

Cabrini Outreach is proud to facilitate Greg’s visits to PNG, and would like to thank Cabrini Technology Group for their ongoing support.

You can find more information about our programs in PNG here.