02.10.2009 80 °F
-Not surprisingly, the hospitals here are vastly underfunded and in desperate need of infrastructure improvements. For example, patients in the ER or PICU who are on mechanical ventilation machines that may also need echocardiograms to evaluate for heart disease must wait until they are no longer intubated so that they can be transported to the Echo room.
-Last night we were invited to have coffee with one of the cardiologists at a pretty cafe overlooking a lake. From what we gathered, doctors here are not very well paid in comparison to similar professions (banking, law, engineering) evenm though their training is significantly longer than the others. The doctors work extremely hard here in Vinh. The cardiologist said his family lives about 80km from Vinh and he travels by moto on the weekends to visit them.
- The hospital here in Vinh is quite hold and well worn. There are generally four beds in a room about the size of a hospital room in the US, occasionally there are more than two patients in a bed. Parents here are extremely devoted constantly at the bedside, often sleeping in the beds and doing laundry at the hospital. The parents also are responsible for chaning diapers. A few times on rounds when a doctor saw that a diaper was dirty, he seemed to admonish the parent in a stern tone and the parent quickly moved to clean the baby.
-While I cannot be certain since I do not understand the language, it does not seem that the doctors spend any time talking with the parents about what is going on. Doctors are very well respected here and family seem to accept whatever is told or just sit in silence while their child is being examined.
-The staff here are very desperate fpr any medical books and supplies. We have twice been asked to leave our stethoscopes here in Vinh since they cannot afford to buy even decent ones. The ones they use here are often broken or very cheap. While we caan't leave ours, on our return to the states will be contacting some of the med supply companies to see if they can donate any or give us a reduced price for a solid baseline stethoscope. Also, the cardiologist was showing me websites he uses for information. One site on heart failure was from a veterianarian site. So once I get home I am going to get several books together to send over. It seems that most of the doctors can read English.
-As I have learned from previous medical mission trips to Trinidad and Nicaragua and firurther strengthened here, I try not to get frustrated with the lack of infrastructure in poorer countries. I do not think I have it in me to work to change systems much bigger than me. Some people, like Paul Farmer, try this and the world certainly benefits from these people. I just focus on exploring a new culture, working with other people in the medical field to continue learning to advance my skills (already I have heard several great murmurs and lots of kids with asthma and pneumonia), sharing the knowledge I have and hanging out and smiling at cute kids.