Session 5 (September, 2013) - L.R., Nurse Practitioner
Let's get acquainted, shall we?
Today is the first day that we all wake up at the compound together like one big happy family.
We all load on the bus back to Miraflores where some of us take (what I later hear was a fantastic) tour of historic Lima. I opt out of the bike tour in favor of Starbucks and free wifi (I know, I am weak....so weak). This however, gives me an opportunity to bond with some of the "Adultos" (as we will later be titled), so I do not consider it a missed opportunity. This Starbucks does not have my usual Veranda blend so I am forced to drink a vanilla latte (and for those of you who know me, this is a big compromise. I am now officially, "roughing it"). And, since I am in a different zip code, I'm pretty sure that means that calories don't count so I order a cookie. With chocolate chips. Two different kinds. Haha!
When the group is finished, we join together for a tour of the local hospital, Salud Hospital General Maria Auxiliadora.
This is a humbling experience for me.
As we walk the hallways, the nurses and doctors smile and greet us with open arms. "Anything you need, you let me know", one doctor says. They are eager to explain how the individual units work and the nature of the patients for whom they treat.
In the US, we often complain about the state of our health care, what we deserve and what we think we are owed. We are issued surveys that ask "Did your doctor listen to your concerns?' or "How was the food on a scale from 1-10". We have the luxury of worrying about whether the food was delicious or if the hospital had Cable TV.
As we begin our tour, I note that there are patients in gurneys lining the hallways. There are small pieces of paper with a number and their name taped above their beds. I am told that some of these patients have been there for 6 months. 6 months! 6 months without even a room, let alone a private one.
My heart breaks.
As we walk through the halls, we pass by rooms that host approximately 6 patients each, tucked in small white metal beds. These patients greet us with smiles as we walk by. I notice the stark contrast from my rooms in the US, where every patient gets a private room and will often greet you with the "Watchu lookin' at?" stare if you peek in there.
What I instantly notice is the lack of high tech equipment. There are no monitors at the bedside. No machines that whir or click. There is no familiar beeping of IV pumps or pagers. This is instead, replaced with a simple IV bag on a pole, and drips are calculated the "old fashioned way".
I notice a particularly peculiar piece of equipment on the windowsill. This is a wooden board with a vial of potassium taped to it sideways. What is it? Is it for emergencies? Like a crash cart? We are told that no, this is a level, to be used for placing CVC catheters. Aha! These nurses are not only hardworking, but clever as well! It suddenly makes me wonder why I've paid $20 at Home Depot for the one that I have at home.
We also notice what can only be described as a Pyxis. This is fashioned out of an old desk and the medications are in the drawer. No fingerprint nor bar code required.
We then head to the pediatric ward. It is here that my heart melts and breaks at the same time.
It is here that I fall in love and I have to tell my husband that he is now #2 in my life, as I've lost my heart to a 32 day old boy named Sebastian. Sebastian has been abandoned and is destined for the orphanage in a week. I instantly begin devising a plan for Kelly to create a diversion so that I can slip him into my backpack (It could work, right?). His 30 day old roommate, Bella, is destined for the same fate, tomorrow.
It is here that we meet a child with cerebal palsy who essentially lives at the hospital and a baby girl with hydrocephalus with a beaming mother, proud to show off her daughter to our team.
As we leave the hospital, I note that I am filled with conflicting emotions. I note that on one hand, I feel pity that these patients do not have the same health care that we do. At the same time, I feel shame at my ethnocentrism in thinking that is somehow better. And I feel just a little ashamed at the sense of entitlement that often plagues me as a citizen of the US.
My eyes are open.
I am now, more than ever, ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work.
Bring on clinic day #1!