First day at the hospital and I don’t even know where to start. Well first off Kenyans have a very different sense of time and urgency, if they say they will be there in 5 minutes, they will be there in an hour and 5 minutes. If you ask them to come pick you up at 8, they’ll be there if you’re lucky at 8:30. Today was a lot about just waiting, we got to the hospital and sat in a room for two hours waiting for our papers to get processed and for admissions to clear us to work in the hospital. After that we assigned ourselves to departments and had to find our way through the confusing hallways of the hospital, dodging patients and their families, the place was just crawling with people! And when we passed the window for the free clinic the line went all the way down the hall. A thin layer of dirt seemed to cover everything, and there were very curious liquid spots dripping down each of the hallways. At one point later in the day I even slipped on a bloody gauze pad, definitely a different level of cleanliness than the US! I was in the group that went to internal medicine first, and we arrived just as they were performing rounds with the main doctor. As each patient’s history was told to the doctor, there were over 20 med students surrounding the bed observing, taking notes and contributing to the diagnosis and treatment. The ward had a cement floor and pretty much all the beds were full, the windows were wide open and flies were everywhere. One of the med students helped us understand what was happening at each bed. Here are some of my observations first off: there was absolutely no monitors hooked up to any of the patients, in fact no where in the hospital was there anyone hooked up to machines except for the three patients we saw in the ICU later in the day. If anything they had IVs hanging from a hook on the wall. There charts were scraps of ripped paper, sometimes bound, sometimes stapled, their X-rays of scans were tucked behind their pillow, they had the clothes they came in on, and on top of that fly’s were everywhere! I’ve never seen someone seize before, and a man who came in with malaria started to have a seizure when we were two beds down… and no one moved. Today that happened quite a bit of times, when I went to the casualty ward (like our emergency room) there were patient’s moaning in pain, and no one was helping them! There were only two doctors in the ward helping the patient’s, and there was nothing we could do but watch and observe! It broke my heart to see so many people not getting the help they need, I wish I was qualified enough because I would jump at the first opportunity to try to ease their suffering!! Anyways back in the internal medicine ward some of the diseases we saw were Malaria, Hypertension, Stroke, and hepatitis. Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, guess where we finished the last of the rounds? Yea… outside!!! I was blown away by this hospital, there are even cats roaming the halls, jumping across empty beds. Oh and here’s a good one: when I was observing a doctor stick a needle into a mans chest to get the excess air out of his chest cavity due to a collapsed lung, he got a phone call when the needle was halfway in, he proceeded to answer his phone with his gloves on and finished the procedure after he wedged the phone between his cheek and shoulder. In the free clinic they didn’t have enough money for pain medicine for anyone, so this man had a needle shoved into his chest with absolutely no meds! It was so sad, he was in so much pain it was terrible to watch! Next we went to a young boy that an incision that was unbelievably infected, it was about a foot long down the bottom of his stomach, his stomach was so swollen and firm it was scary! The doctor ran his finger along one of the stitches and his finger came off black with who know what, dirt? Blood? And some of the gauze from his old bandage had grown into his cut. 😦 Couldn’t even believe what I was seeing.
The Internal Medicine Ward
Yes… this is outside..
A lot of my day was standing and watching, but I got lucky when I wandered down to the minor theater where they dress wounds, add or remove sutures, and put in catheters. I actually wrapped a woman’s finger! She must have slammed her finger in a door because most of the nail was ripped off and the skin on the tip of her finger was nearly all peeled back. So I got to clean and dress the wound! Hey you got to start somewhere right? I didn’t have much luck today with doing cool procedures, but some of the boys in our group got to take out sutures and replace catheters! Also some of the girls that went to maternity got to scrub in on a C-section! Can’t wait to see what these next three weeks in the hospital will bring me!! Today was exhausting, we went to the hospital from 8-2, grabbed lunch a café (cant tell you how awesome my cheeseburger tasted! Mmmm American food 😛 four days in and I’m missing it!) Then we hung out for a bit at the complex, had noodles and meat for supper and went right back to the hospital from 6:30 to around 8:30! Nothing was going on when we went back unfortunately, we walked around to all the departments seeing if there was anything we could do, nothing. Everything was done for the day! So what to do? Well how about practice putting in an IV on each other!?? (very Greys Anatomy like if I may add.. yup I went there 🙂 ). The students that had been here for a month already had a couple people in the group tourniquet their wrists and try to get a vein on the top of their hands! It’s no good getting bored at a hospital…
Very excited for tomorrow! It’s so energizing to be learning how to help people!!