Monday, April 5, 2010

Reality Kicks in

The following Monday was the first day of work. I got picked up at 7:30am and drove about 40 minutes to St. Mary’s Hospital. This is a semi-rural hospital founded by a couple of monks. It is a public hospital so the majority of the health care is free. This however, I found out, comes at its price. I knew going in that the way health care was done here was going to be different in the States. The South African health care system has been disrupted by the surge of HIV, and the consequences of that can be sometimes very difficult to witness. Outside of each ward were long lines and a lot of people waiting. We were told that a visit here could take the whole day. However, the people were never complaining, never emotional, and never furious. They all sat patiently, praying (literally) that their number would be called today. There were many backflow rooms where more patients would sit and wait to get put into the regular queue. Hailey and I decided to float around the surgery ward for the day. Right off the bat, we were dressed in scrubs and put in the operating room. There was a woman sitting on the operating table ready to receive an epidural. She looked pretty calm and collected and ready to have a cesarean section fully awake. There is no anesthetic in these hospitals so the majority of the operations are done while the patient is fully awake. I became a little queasy at the epidural part (I usually get queasy whenever I see something new like this) but was ok during the actual operation. All the sudden a baby emerges out of her abdomen and it just took me by surprise. It was a beautiful thing I guess you could say? The new mother was then shoved off the bed onto a stretcher and carried to a post-op area where she would be discharged in 6 hours or less. The usual procedure consists of the mother coming to the hospital by herself, waiting in a room until her water broke/contractions reached a certain frequency, being thrown onto an operating room table, having the baby delivered, and finally being discharged with the baby within 6 hours baring no complications.

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