A 53-year old British ihi Bupa Travel member was recently involved in a serious road accident in Somalia. Once at the ER in a local hospital, the member’s friend contacts ihi Bupa’s 24-hour assistance service team requesting an air ambulance evacuation. Shortly after the member has been evaluated, ihi Bupa’s medical consultant speaks to the treating doctor. This is the protocol at ihi Bupa in these urgent cases, where doctor to doctor conference is key to determining whether the patient should remain in the local hospital or be evacuated.
The member had lost consciousness after the accident and presented lacerations to his head, tongue and possibly cervical or spinal injuries, as he is unable to move and has numbness in his limbs. The local hospital is unable to further evaluate or treat the patient. Repatriating the member to the UK would not be medically responsible due to the member’s condition.
ihi Bupa has extensive knowledge of the African continent and our medical consultants and assistance co-ordinators are confident that the member can be further evaluated and treated at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya. Immediately after ihi Bupa were contacted by the member’s friend, our assistance co-ordinators contacted our preferred air ambulance provider and fellow International Assistance Group partner in Kenya, Amref requesting a quotation for AA evacuation to Nairobi, Kenya. The necessary information and documentation was gathered and forwarded to them for speedy evaluation of availability. There was a close collaboration between the AA crew and the assistance co-ordinators at ihi Bupa, who despite the logistical and technical challenges worked through the night and were able to arrange admission at the ICU in Aga Khan for the following day.
Once the patient was admitted in Aga Kahn hospital and after the initial evaluation ihi Bupa are informed: CT shows there is no evidence of intracranial haemorrhage or raised pressure. Luckily, there are no further injuries to the pelvis or abdomen. However, there are several fractured and displaced cervical vertebras. The patient remains intubated and on ventilator support. 36 hours after his arrival in Nairobi, he receives surgery for cervical decompression and a cervical plate is fixated (titanium implants) between C4-C7. Post-operative controls show the patient has slight improvement in wrist movement in both hands. There are signs of progress and that is encouraging!
ihi Bupa arranged for the member’s brother to visit him in Nairobi, and he arrived shortly after the surgery. ihi Bupa’s medical consultants were regularly in contact with the neurosurgeon and the treating doctor while the member was admitted. Only 8 days after his arrival to Nairobi, the treating doctors and ihi Bupa commence the process of preparing the member for his repatriation to the UK for what will be a lengthy recovery process. ihi Bupa begin arrangement for air ambulance transportation to the UK. 11 days after surgery, the admission is confirmed in the UK, and ihi Bupa gives the green light for the AA repatriation.
The member’s brother accompanies the member in the air ambulance. Throughout the case, ihi Bupa’s assistance team showed empathy and support towards the member’s wife. Unable to travel to her husband’s side, she was updated on his medical condition and reassured that he was receiving the appropriate treatment. She was also updated the repatriation arrangements. ihi Bupa was a healthcare partner to the patient, by facilitating the immediate evacuation to a suitable facility in the hours after the accident, by being in regular contact with the service partner and the treating doctors in Kenya ensuring that the treatment he received was appropriate.
Throughout the ordeal, the member maintained a positive outlook and co-operated with the personnel at the hospital. The fact that his wife in the UK was up to date with the events in Kenya and having his brother by his side made a difference and encouraged him to get better.
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