Hola a todos! My name is Jenna Johnson and I am a currently a junior biology and history double major at Luther with hopes of going to medical school in the near future. I am thrilled to be sharing with you about our time in the Hospital Militar (Military Hospital) this week.
We arrived at the hospital on Monday January 12th to begin our tour and later the next day to begin our observations. The Hospital Militar is a public hospital that is free for members of the military and their families but all others need to pay for the services provided. It is in a more expensive neighborhood than Centro De Salud and has a different cliental than Centro De Salud N4 because it is not free for everyone. Although this is technically considered a public hospital, it falls in between a public and private because some people have to pay while others do not. Unfortunately we don´t have tiem to observe in a private hospital here, but it would be interesting to see the differences! One of the first things that I noticed was that there were significantly less people at this hospital in comparison to the Centro De Salud because this is not a free hospital for everyone. As a result, we have seen much less patients during our time here than in Centro De Salud N4. In addition, patients did not have to wait nearly as long for an appointment. Although this hospital provides clinical services like the Central De Salud N4 that we observed in last week, it also has a much larger variety of services that it provides, such as a place for surgery, an ear, nose, and throat doctor(Otorrinolaringología in Spanish – trying saying that three times fast!), and others.
The two areas that I´m going to write about are quirofano (where they do surgery) and emergencia (emergency).
The first area that I observed in was quirofano. In quirofano, we had to change our clothes into the official attire in order to enter into the area where the surgery was taking place. This included wearing scrubs, booties to cover our shoes, something to cover our hair, as well as a mask (see the photo!) I think I can speak for everyone in my group in saying that we were ready and excited to see the surgery! The surgery that we got the opportunity to observe was a woman who had a mass in her cheek and needed to get her adenoids removed. We got to watch the doctors and nurses prep her, see the doctors cut the adenoids out of her nose, and see her get IVs after the surgery. Overall, it was my favorite observation in the hospital because we got to see a real-time surgery (!) and because all of the doctors and nurses were very willing to answer any questions that we had about the surgery or about medicine in Ecuador in general. For the most part, the room where the surgery was done was very similar to those that I have seen in the U.S.
The next are we visited was the emergency room which had a total of five beds. Unlike in the Centro de Salud N4, there were not rooms for the delivery of births and there were a lot less people. One of the more fascinating things about the emergency room was that most of the people who came in had to go to a different area of the hospital in order to get their vital signs checked. For example, two patients that came in to get an EKG, but had to then go to another area of the hospital to finish their check-up. While in the emergency room, there was one other patient, Javier, who had fallen from a ladder and hurt his back. He needed an IV and we had the opportunity to chat with him about his life in Ecuador.
One of the largest differences for me between this hospital and the U.S. was that many doctors here offered for us to help them in various procedures (don’t worry, we only observed!). Although it was tempting to want to help, we don’t have the education or the experience and we would be putting the patients at risk. In the U.S. students with no medical education would never be offered to help with anything. It was an eye-opening (and a bit of an unnerving) experience to realize that there are some patients in Ecuador who have been treated by people with limited to no medical education. This is a difference that I had not expected to encounter before coming to Ecuador.
See some of the attached photos of some of us at the Hospital Militar! Thanks for following us on our journey through Cuenca and stay tuned for more posts about the adventures in our final week in Ecuador!