Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Eye Opener

Well I think we were all not sure what to expect, and nothing would have prepared us for the reality of a third world "charity" hospital.  People are lined up on bare metal cots, or on cardboard on the floor, with no privacy, no ventilation, no medications and limited resources.  No one wears gloves (except for us!) and all of us will seroconvert for TB by the end of the month, unless we already have (me and Heather).  Our job will include obtaining all blood, intubating, inserting catheters, some interview and improving our physical exam skills.  Family of the patients are expected to do things like help move the patient, hold tubes of blood, run the blood down to the lab, hold the IV fluids and even VENTILATE - meaning pump the balloon that is helping the patient breathe.  This would NEVER fly in the US.

Already we've seen some interesting patients.  A lady with a goiter the size of a softball, multiple injuries from falls, a man with liver failure NOT from alcohol but likely from TB, schistosomiasis or other infectious disease - these things would not even make my top 5 list back in the states. Today I was successful at inserting an IV, drawing blood, and almost successful at intubating a fully awake patient.  I will get my share of attempts though.

The other wards had just as much excitement.  OB deliveries, vaginal checks, D&Cs and surgical post-op all take place in the same room with no curtains, not even beds for everyone.  The girls had one patient code on them - not a pretty picture.  Then Megan had a run-in with the infamous HUGE rat that lives where the OB students and residents keep their bags - she will not be bringing snacks along with her for the rest of the month. (Nor going in that room alone!!!)  Erica thought they would get to do more, but only 1 delivery occured and it was a C-Section of a "large baby" - 8lbs 1 oz!  We are all going to develop body insecurities this month with all these tiny people around.

The medical students are called "clerks" and they have been super helpful and nice.  The ER ones had lunch with us and took us to a Chinese restaurant in the nearby mall.  The food was good, but was not traditional Chinese more of Asian Fusion. 

For dinner we went as a group to Zambounga, a traditional Filipino restaurant.  The food was amazing - tons of seafood and very tasty.  Lots of prawns, crab, squid, oysters and mussels.  We really enjoyed the fruit dessert too.  But by far the highlight of the evening was seeing some of our classmates dance the traditional Filipino dances - complete with 2 guys (Nathan and Steve) dancing in HULA OUTFITS. (Photos to come and they are priceless!)  The official dancers put on a great show too.


  1. Hi, All! Hope that you are all enjoying your ventures! If nothing else, you all will be thankful for your locations when Match Day comes around....I guess that we should all be thankful for the medical care that we enjoy here and I will be very thankful for that when I am the only patient in the room next week during my yearly checkup......Stay safe....say your prayers...thankful for starting my day with good reading - you will keep posting after March 1st, Right? Love from Mom

  2. As a future lawyer I have to say that family-assisted medical care would make malpractice suits INFINITELY easier. Everything sounds like a walking lawsuit - makes me appreciate where we live so much more.

  3. Hi Abi,

    After reading this article, I couldn't help think about how well I prepared you for this experience by making you read about the life of Schweitzer. Remember, er war ein bekannter und beruehmter Artz. Bald wirst du eine bekannte und beruehmte Artzin sein. Have a great day and enjoy your time in Manila.