Saturday, April 20, 2013

Today was all business. Luckily for me I'm starting to recover from the jet leg- we are ten hours ahead of Boston. We started into the office right after breakfast to start finalizing lecture and seminar topics. We will be lecturing on Sunday and Monday, which will be so exciting to finally meet the nursing students! We have tentative plans to fly to Chittagong (southern Bangladesh) at the end of next week for a two day certificate seminar at one the hospitals. The topics we will presenting for the physicians at hospitals outside of Dhaka Medical College Hospital (where the nursing school is located) will differ dramatically from our nursing lectures. The role of nursing in Bangladesh is still evolving and being defined, it's often equated with being a maid. Medicine is done entirely in English which is challenging for nurses as they often do NOT have the opportunity to receive an education in English due to their class level. This obviously leads to major miscommunication in terms of patient care and nurses understanding rationals for why care is delivered in a particular way.

After spending time working on our presentations I requested that we be taken to the public hospital to visit before we start our teaching. They were hesitant at first due to traffic concerns but with persistence agreed. Every situation here is new, overwhelming and takes time to adjust. I tried to convey how different life is here for me compared to what I'm used to but I'm not sure they can fully relate since there is no way I can ever relate to the life they have lead.

The journey over to that side of the city was quite a trek with the massive amounts of people out due to it being near rush hour. I'm very appreciative they gave me the chance to visit today as I'm still attempting to process the hospital conditions. To give an idea of the public hospital (this means no one is turned away, if you have any money you usually find a private one) there are about ~1700 beds with about ~4000 admitted patients. Rooms, also known as wards are covered with cots. Many of the beds have more then one patient in them.

The hallways have patients, basically anywhere where there is room. Families lovingly dote on the patients as one nurse typically has about ~30 patients. There was a list on the wall at the entrance of the hospital with about 50 medications that the hospital has in stock. Although they did assure me that the conditions were much cleaner then any hospital in Pakistan, the images of blood in the hallways and people suffering in the corners is heartbreaking. Despite the horrendous conditions compared to the world class environment I'm used to at MGH, there was an overall feeling of peace. It was quite obvious that these people have next to nothing, but they do have love and compassion; that is something you can't buy or teach. Every person I smiled at immediately returned the smile while adding a nod. There was no one begging, crowding, yelling or frantic, just people looking for a feeling of hope. I was told tomorrow will be more busy since today many people had off. I'm eager to begin tomorrow :-) Namaste.

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