by Quinn Seston
After a long day of travel, my bed was too comfortable for an early alarm, but after a few snooze buttons and a great breakfast, Dr. Richard Strauss and I made it to the Regional Hospital here in Matagalpa for their morning lecture at 7 am. The 10 minute drive there was very similar to a morning drive in La Crosse with people hurrying to work and school. The lecture was a lively debate on respiratory distress syndrome as the doctors used evidence based medicine when possible. From the minute we parked the truck, it was obvious that Richard and the staff of this hospital had a connection. As we worked our way into the hospital, there was many stops to greet and briefly say hello and discuss how each other’s family was doing. Although my Spanish skills are minimal, Richard’s translations during this presentation was an eye opening connection again of the similarity between medical presentations between here and noon lectures at Gundersen back home.
Then we made our way around the hospital guided by the Neonatal Intensive Care Doctor supposedly to get to to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) so he could start his shift, but I really think it was to get Richard to say hello to many of the staff he had connected with on past trips. Although much of the hospital basic, the NICU is only 4 years old due to a grant from a German donor and has some advanced medical technologies (heating beds, infant ventilators, etc). The NICU currently has 15 infants it was carrying for, many of who where on IVs, intubated or requiring other advance care. The NICU doctor went patient by patient telling us their history and current treatments that ranges from a 28 week gestation 7 day old boy to a 9 day old transferred in from home due to breathing problems who was on a ventilator (mechanical breathing machine). We also made it to the pediatric ICU, where the same process occurred. Without this technology, much of their current care would not be possible and these infant lives would be at risk.
Although we had to leave the hospital after only a few hours, it had been a very eye opening morning and what felt like a once in a lifetime window into the delicate healthcare of some of Nicaragua’s youngest citizens.
The rest of the day was spent at UNAN, the regional university, with Dr. Strauss giving a 1.5 hr lecture on “8 Signs of Distress of the Newborn” in Spanish and myself giving a similar length lecture through our great interrupter Braulio on “Wound & Fracture Care”. The roughly 50-60 students took many notes on both lectures and enjoyed practicing putting on finger, arm and leg splints.
The evening wrapped up with a drive up to the a look out over the city and a great dinner.
Thankfully, today is only day one. I’m looking to more time at the hospital as well as educating at the university.
Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as later this week as I will be changing lecture topics to suturing. Although suturing is relatively a simple medical skill, when you put 50 students, a translator, two dozen pig’s feet and many needles all in a room, I’m sure it will be a bit interesting.