Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Gugulethu Day #3

For the fun and exciting stuff:

I had another great day at Gugulethu and am getting to know everyone in the program much better.  After a long day at the CHC a few of us went for a run which ended up being super short since we ended at the grocery store which is only a few blocks away.  We are hopefully going out to a bar tonight to hear a live band play.  I am told that happy hour is from 10-11 and the drinks are two for 1…aka about $1 for 2 beers since the conversion rate is so great.  We also bought a bottle of hard cider to try so I’m hopeful for that.  I am really really hoping to get to the local café tomorrow night so that I can write more and potentially add some pictures.  Until then, hope all is well!

More in-depth at Gugulethu

Last night I was finally able to go to bed early but ended up journaling for quite a while and then couldn’t fall asleep.  However, once I did I was out cold—literally!  The alarm came way too early at 7am so the snooze button was hit right away.  The bus driver arrived and we boarded for another day at Gugulethu CHC.

Today we were assigned placements around the clinic.  I jumped at the opportunity to work in the Trauma unit and was ready to be thrown to the wolves so to speak.  Right away we were shown to a child that had severe burns over most of her face from porridge spilling over her.  The shacks that many South Africans live in contain small heaters on the ground used for both warmth and cooking.   These are very easy for young children to grab hold of or have kicked and accidentally spilled on them.

The sister in charge spoke with us regarding our intentions at the clinic—many of the staff members believed that we were all medical students and were unaware of our backgrounds.  Since I am a public health major the sister thought that I wouldn’t be interested or that it would not benefit me to observe and work with the trauma patients so she hummed and hawed over where to put me.  To be honest I was pretty upset since I wanted to work with the trauma patients and observe/ take in the medical equipment available to them and learn how they perform so many procedures with such little technology.  I was told later on that they use x-rays to examine everything since they lack MRI and CT machines.

I eventually made my way to the pharmacy where I packaged bottles of olive oil, which is used to clean ears.  While the job itself wasn’t exciting or difficult it made me realize that every little bit of help does make some difference.  Everyone in the small pharmacy was running around frantically to get everything done and without our help they would have been even more stressed.

The healthcare system here has so many different aspects too it and a much more holistic approach to medicine—they do what they can with what they have for the most part. 

I believe that tomorrow I am being placed in the family planning unit and will be working with the woman in charge of pregnant patients recently diagnosed with HIV but still have a low CD4 count.  They use public health interventions and discussions to find ways to lower the spread of HIV and inform these expectant mothers of certain precautions.  The health promoter will also hopefully be on site.

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