One-on-one with Dr Thistle

Canadian-born, educated and trained Dr Paul Thistle made his name at Howard Hospital, which he left in 2012 after differing with the Salvation Army and moved to the Evangelical Church-run Karanda Hospital in Mt Darwin. Our Features Editor Garikai Mazara recently visited the hospital and asked the doctor a few questions:

Q: The name Karanda is known all over the country and in the sub-region, what would you say are the strong points of the hospital? That is, does the hospital have any speciality?

A: A broad range of affordable, accessible medical and surgical services. General surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology.

Q: We noticed that spirituality plays a central role in the healing sessions at the hospital, how do you handle non-believers? And similarly, how do you treat those who don’t follow Christian fellowship?

A: Though we are a faith-based institution offering holistic medicine, Karanda has a long standing tradition of treating whoever comes to the doors of the hospital, irrespective of race, religion or political affiliation.

Q: Did the switch from Howard Hospital (Salvation Army-run) to Karanda (Evangelical) affect your practice in any way?

A: No, not really. Both hospitals have similar religious backgrounds, and the patient populations of Chiweshe and Mount Darwin are similar.

Q: What have been the “extraordinary” medical cases that the hospital has handled, since your arrival?

A: In a long standing medical practice, you will always see interesting medical and surgical conditions. But it is ordinary everyday occurrences that encourage and sustain — the ordinary tasks of each day a mother saved in childbirth, a malnourished infant restored to health, an adult living with HIV supported on positive living. Joy does find a way.

Q: Are there any challenges that the hospital faces and if so, what kind of support would you request from central Government, the community and well-wishers?

A: As our hospital has attracted patients from all over Zimbabwe, our human and physical resources, for example, professional staff posts, housing and medical, has not kept pace with the workload.

Q: Would you mind to share a few insights about life with your wife, and how marrying locally inspired your practice?

A: Behind every man there is a good woman.

Q: Any words of encouragement (advice) to those who want to take up the challenges that you have faced as a volunteer doctor?

A: Persevere in the little tasks of each day. Kutange nhamo, rugare runotevera. Or Mother Theresa said, “We cannot do great things. We can only do little things with great                                                                                                      love.”

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