General Hospital

Today I visited the government run general hospital next to the School of Midwifery. I have to admit that it was actually quite difficult to see the facility first hand. The hospital is set up to where each department has its own building with one long room. The buildings are connected by walkways, some of which have overhangs covering them and others do not. The conditions in the hospital are ridiculously substandard compared to what hospitals are like in the U.S. Most of the floors have dirt on them, the bathrooms are disgusting, there is no privacy for patients, and the operating room consists of a “clean” room with two beds in it.

When I arrived in the morning, one of the faculty took the time to show me around the whole facility. There are different wards set up including out-patient, woman’s general, woman’s critical, mens general, mens critical, child, infant, maternity, and surgical. As we entered each room, the doctor explained to the nurses that “She is a student from the US and she is here to see how beautiful our facility is!” Then, I had to agree with him and tell everyone how lovely the hospital was. It was really frustrating because I am not sure if they really believed that their hospital was at an acceptable standard or if they were just putting on a show for me. No matter the reason, it was incredibly uncomfortable and difficult to keep a straight face during those interactions.

Throughout the tour, I had the opportunity to meet some of the patients and the doctor would explain to me what was wrong with each patient. When we reached the mens ward, I saw a man sitting in a chair next to a bed with a little boy in it. His whole body was covered in white/green ointment or puss (I don’t really know what it was) and I actually could not tell what was wrong with him. When I asked the doctor, he told me that the child had been in a kerosene explosion but he was doing much better now. If that was doing much better, I can’t even imagine what he must have been like when he entered. He was visibly in a lot of pain but the doctors told me that he would survive. As we continued, I saw two more burn victims. One was a middle aged man who was burned by gasoline. The other was a young man and the doctor told me his story because the man was not able to speak. He is a taxi driver and had been driving his car at night when he pulled over to pick up a man from the side of the road. Instead of getting in the car, the man opened the drivers door and threw acid on him. The driver was taken to the hospital and he will survive, except it will take many months before he is able to leave the hospital, his body is permanently deformed, and he lost his left eye.

Those were the worst cases that I saw that day, however the combination of the patients and the conditions of the hospital were incredibly upsetting. I don’t understand how we let it get to this point. How can we let a whole country with 200 million people live with a health care system that is so ineffective and rudimentary? I am going to spend time in the hospital observing the practices in woman’s health care. I think it will be interesting to contrast the care given in a clinic to the care in a hospital. I am also going to look into their medical records system to see if we could work with them in the future to introduce a medical record system. I think that working in the hospital will be the most challenging part of this trip, emotionally at least. It still surprises me though that no matter how horrible the conditions are in the hospital, everyone that works there never loses hope and their spirit is unbreakable. I hope that is something I can learn from them as well.

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