Renee Valach

Renée's Rainforest Reflections


Renée’s Rainforest Reflections- Mid July 2020 Special Edition
Covid Continues

Just two weeks ago I wrote about the arrival of Covid at Bongolo in June. A lot can happen in two weeks. First, two of my American colleagues fell ill with Covid. Then it was our Assistant Medical Director, a Gabonese surgeon. About 10 days ago, we cared for the first person to die of Covid in our province. Around this time multiple nurses were also sick, and at least one nurse was confirmed with Covid. We count the people who pass through the temperature screening checkpoints in the mornings. Monday a week ago, there were 644 people. People have come from all over Gabon because some other health structures are not working due to Covid. Since multiple nurses have been sick, we have limited the numbers of patients we can see, and are mostly seeing patients with emergencies and chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension and HIV.

Despite wearing a mask, appropriate PPE and washing my hands, on Saturday I noticed that I couldn’t smell anything at all. By Tuesday night I had a positive Covid test, (along with another doctor and a hospital worker.) I’m now isolated at the house with headache, fever, cough, and fatigue. Izzi and Sarah are continuing to care for patients at the hospital. In addition to the first patient who died, Bongolo has had two more suspected Covid deaths. So far, despite being sick I’ve been able to continue coordinating the transportation of tests to the lab four hours away with the Regional Health Director and communicating with the public health service from Lebamba, about 3 miles away.

The day before I got sick among the patients I saw, were a teenage boy with bad heart disease and a young boy with advanced AIDS. I was wearing a mask and washed my hands, but I was certainly already infectious. I’m relatively young, and don’t have underlying medical conditions, so I will probably be fine. If those boys catch Covid, I don’t expect them to do well at all.

Prayer Requests

Prayer Requests

Pray for continued protection from Covid. Pray for return to health for those of us who are currently ill with no residual effects. Pray for protection for rest of the Bongolo staff. Pray that the fragile patients who’ve been exposed would not get sick.
Pray for the team who currently doing the work at the hospital. The load is heavy and workers are few. Pray that God would give strength and joy in the work, even though it’s difficult.
Pray for a good working relationship with the regional Gabonese medical authorities and the public health service.
Pray for gloves. We are very short on medical exam gloves.



Updated: July 18, 2020

Field Assignment
Country of Service
BP 13.021 Gros Boquet

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