Wednesday, September 24, 2008

a day in the hospital

Yesterday I spent a good deal of time at a couple La Paz hospitals--both as a patient and as a visitor.

In the morning, I had a medical appointment at El Hospital de Torax. The visit, complete with X-rays, laboratory work, a physical, and a dental check-up, was required by the government as one of the many steps in aquiring Bolivian residency.

As instructed, I arrived at the hospital at 8 am with my blank medical form and secured my place in line. After providing a copy of my passport and paying the 180 Bs fee, I was shuffled to the "statistics" office where a secretary filled out my basic information form. Once my papers were in order, I was bounced around from office to office--spending most of the 3 hour visit waiting for my name to be called.

Though I´m generally not a fan of hospital visits--particularly visits to hospitals that aren´t quite as hygenic-seeming as I´d like--I found the whole experience to be relatively painless (minus the blood sample). At 11am, I was sent on my way with a clean bill of health and a mini-lecture from the doctora about the importance of wearing insect repellent and sun screen.

Concepcion Huanca works 8pm - 8 am in the maternity ward of El Hospital Juan XXIII

After an afternoon of fingerprints and photographs at the police station (other residency requirements), Bill and I ventured to El Hospital Juan XXIII to meet UAC-CP nursing student, Concepcion Huanca. As part of her nursing rotation required for graduation, Concepcion works the 12-hour night shift in the hospital´s maternity ward.

Donning her white uniform, blue UAC-CP sweater, and starched nursing cap, she showed us around the fourth floor of Juan XXIII. Her responsibilites are varied, she said. Since arriving a few weeks ago, she has assisted with live births, C-sections, pre- and post-natal care, and all other duties (like cleaning and paperwork!) that a nurse must perform.

As I watched Concepcion carefully attend to a new mother and her baby girl, I couldn´t help but think that I would´ve felt a bit more comfortable during my hospital visit at Torax had Concepcion been by my side. The next time I need to go to the hospital, I decided, I´m bringing a UAC-CP nursing student along with me.

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