Sorry, I wrote the following blog last Friday but due to limited internet access and then taking a trip with the Outerbridges’ for a weekend in the South African jungle 🙂 I was unable to get this first blog up until now… and have many more to catch up on!
My first week at the Mahalapye Hospital has flown by, completely immersed in a whole new world; a world that has become my own for the next seven weeks. A bit overwhelming, I am learning to take it slow, getting to know the hospital’s departments, staff, and protocols/paperwork. Quite different than the electronic medical records I was exposed to at Walter Reed, patients now bring me a colored paper or papers, sometimes bound into a homemade book. These papers hold their medical history information and the system works as follows: If the patient is to see any doctors or departments within the hospital that day, they go to a window to receive a hospital stamp with the date. Then the doctor/dept. writes why the patient presented at their office, the diagnosis or findings of the examination, the prognosis and/or treatment plan. Although I have found I am rarely able to decipher what was previously written on my patients’ sheets, and when I do often there is limited information listed, I am guessing the information listed above is what is supposed to be recorded.
Meanwhile, I am struggling through the language of Botswana, Setswana, and am lucky to have very tolerant instructors. Geoff, Temo, (the World Spine Care Assistant/Translator), and many of my new patients have be incredible teachers …repeating… spelling.. and repeating again. I realize how crucial communication is, one of the many little things I have previously taken for granted. It only took a few hours after landing in Botswana to learn to appreciate the countless simple aspects of my everyday life I had previously taken for granted.
Although, my patients and I are often times unable to linguistically communicate, in the end there is a mutual understanding found between the both of us. I noticed this during a particularly difficult bout of communication with a woman who happened to be a new patient. (I still have pity for the insects on the walls of the treatment room, who were subjected to witness such a poorly played charades game- while my patient and I tried to communicate.) Eventually we battled our questions out, and from that experience I found a valuable lesson. I recognized the simple message that every patient enters my door seeking to be understood. Each individual has different conscious and subconscious needs that have to be met. As a health practitioner, my focus should be to first and foremost to understand what my patients’ needs are-consciously/subconsciously; physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Mutual understanding between patient and doctor produces an optimal healing environment. It is a continual process, as the multiple needs change with time. But using present time consciousness to tune into patients’ current need(s), and barriers such as age, background, culture, even language do not have to blockade the opportunity for health care and healing… sure they can make finding the common ground a bit more challenging… but I have found with every challenge I get better in some way, … “every day, in every way, I am getting better and better”
The pictures are pictures I took today 04-04-12 of the Mahalaype Hospital. The hospital was constructed about four years ago and offers state of the art facilities for the Mahalaype community. Often when I meet other doctors or staff at the hospital they make comments to how innovative the Mahalaype Hospital is and it truly is an incredible establishment for the area.