Sophie and Alice
Today we spent time on the surgical ward. We first went to the hospital handover where a lot of information was given about the number of patients on the various wards, their conditions and equipment such as lack of oxygen. It was refreshing to see staff nurses being open and honest about the challenges they are facing. A prayer was said before and after the meeting showing a high reliance on their faiths.
How do we describe the Surgical ward? Words cannot explain the experience, not only was this out of our comfort zone but it challenged us emotionally and physically. We were introduced to the doctor in charge and then went onto the ward which caters for female and children under 12.
What we first noticed was the overwhelming number of people, with beds lining the walls and patients even lying on the floor with flys buzzing around them. We went on the ward round with the doctor. There were several babies and young children with horrific burns with no pain relief available because the families could not afford it and they were screaming and crying as dressings were changed. Conditions included spina bifida, road traffic accidents, breast and stomach cancer and juvenile arthritis. The nurse changing the dressings was robotic in her actions with little empathy for the children and their families. However, after spending only a few hours on this ward we can see why the nurses may need to distance themselves emotionally as there were no alternative methods and even for us to observe was distressing.
Infection control was better than anticipated as sterile gloves were worn and sharps disposed of properly and wounds appeared clean. We were made aware that a lot of the conditions were advanced due to not accessing healthcare sooner and the cost of treatment.
The doctor was very knowledgeable and communicated well with both the patients and us effectively. At one point during our time on this ward we became so distressed by hearing children screaming in pain - a noise that will stay with us for ever - we felt there was no alternative but to take some time outside. On returning we continued the ward round it was made apparent throughout that patients were not being treated due to lack of resources such as operations being cancelled on a daily basis and the treatment that the families could just not afford. We felt frustrated and helpless at this.
After leaving we felt extremely guilty because we could just walk away knowing that they had to stay. We will never forget our time on this ward.