RadConnect transmits x-rays from Bongolo Hospital to Dr. Henck in Pennsylvania

I received this text request for IT help from Dr. Henck last year on June 6th, while Bintou and I were in Tennessee. My secondary role at Bongolo Hospital is assisting with their communications infrastructure – specifically as a system administrator for the network and file servers that support medical records, x-ray storage, the internal phone system and internet.  I have continued in this role in spite of being on another continent, using my laptop and cell phone as a “traveling office.”

Dr. Henck reading an x-ray taken at Bongolo Hospital from Pennsylvania.

Because of our network infrastructure, Dr. Henck, a radiologist and integral part of the Bongolo medical team even though he lives in Pennsylvania, is able to remotely access x-rays taken at Bongolo Hospital and write reports for the doctors just as he does in the US.

Dr. Henck at Bongolo Hospital training surgery residents and x-ray technicians

After reading the text, I messaged Bongolo to verify all the servers were running and prayed that the internet would start working…it had been steadily deteriorating for weeks.  Miraculously, only moments later, another text from Dr. Henck read, “disregard, images from today have just started appearing.  The Lord intervened and the team was able to proceed with the case!  Praise the Lord!  Not only do the winds and the waves obey Him but the digital pathways as well!!

Pleading for a Solution

Bongolo Hospital is located in the jungle of southern Gabon where, not only is there little opportunity for health care, but internet access is severely unreliable.  After struggling for years with slow, intermittent connectivity and then Dr. Henck losing access to critical x-ray images for 5 days, we pleaded with God to bring a better solution – and He did!

Doug Sprague and the AgapeAfricaFund provided 2 Digi 3G modems to connect 3G internet to Bongolo Hospital’s network.  Jason Boyer, a systems and network specialist, volunteered to travel to Bongolo Hospital to install the units.  By early August, roughly two months from the day I received the text from Dr. Henck, x-rays were again uploading and I was able to resume administering the system!

Around the same time, Dr. Jeff Lane, an anesthesiologist, joined the Bongolo surgical training team. Dr. Jeff and his wife, Amy, quickly became my very capable hands and feet at Bongolo for maintaining the servers and network infrastructure.  Little did I know how important these two provisions by God would become for the months that followed.

Struggling for Life, Medical Answers, and Server Solutions

During this key personnel transition, Isaac had arrived and we were spending our days and nights at the hospital with him.  I often brought my computer, my traveling office, to work on the Bongolo system.

October 31st, Isaac had surgery to install a gastric feeding tube and repair 3 hernias.  His post-surgery recovery was much worse than expected and we went to bed realizing Isaac was fighting for his life. The next morning, Isaac’s body was swelling and his oxygen levels were dangerously low.  We prayed and watched the technicians take multiple x-rays which identified excessive fluid in Isaac’s lungs and confirmed the breathing tube had been positioned correctly.

The very same morning, I received a text from Bongolo that all the medical systems were down.  Although I felt too emotionally and physically exhausted to think about another problem, I felt incredibly thankful that the Charlotte x-ray system that Isaac needed was working. God used the timing of Isaac’s setback to make me realize the importance of having x-rays available for the patients at Bongolo and He gave me the grace to press through my exhaustion and get to work.

An error one never wants to see – the disks have failed.

As the doctors struggled to identify what was causing Isaac to swell, and his oxygen requirements to be so high, Dr. Jeff Lane and I struggled to identify the root problem with the servers at Bongolo Hospital. 

Dr. Jeff Lane with the servers in the background working on the dead R610 server.

We determined the drive system on the server had failed.  However, improved internet connectivity allowed me to access the system remotely and transition the local x-ray, internet firewall and phone systems to alternate hardware.  It also allowed for critical x-rays to be uploaded and sent by email for Dr. Henck’s review while the server was down.

Simpler is Better

Over the next 6 months, we tried to resurrect the server but with no lasting success.  This server was too fancy for the jungle humidity and power fluctuations.  We replaced it with a simpler one that I assembled and configured in the corner of our Ronald McDonald house and sent to Bongolo with visitors around Christmas.  After 4 months of being offline, RadConnect was up and working and Dr. Henck was able to remotely access x-ray images!

A few months ago, another server, Bongolo’s oldest, also died and left only one server carrying the whole load.  I am currently preparing a second server as well as a new backup drive to go to Bongolo.

Additional hard drives installed and ready to configure

What an encouragement to see God orchestrate and provide the myriad of unexpected, unplanned changes at just the right time.  To God be the glory – great things He has done! 

Prayer Requests:

  • A team preparing to do additional IT repairs and replacements at Bongolo in July.  They need to finalize tickets, visas and I need to finalize the project plan, instructions and supplies.
  • For a team from Missionary Air Group preparing to go to Cameroon to tackle some major maintenance on N207FD, the airplane that serves Bongolo hospital, while the program is suspended and the aircraft is being stored in Cameroon in our absence.
  • For the Lord’s confirmation as Wycliffe considers Rob starting training for his helicopter pilot license at JAARS this year.
  • We praise the Lord for an additional $481 per month.  Please pray for the remaining need of $1379 per month!

In Him,
Rob and Bintou

More information and how to join our Wycliffe Ministry