Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Monday, July 9, 2012
Despite my mobile access to internet, I have been falling a bit behind on my blog-writing. Sorry about that! I’ll hit the highlights.
Work this week has been rewarding. We put that infant incubator we’ve been working on back into service. There’s still something wrong with it, but we’ve figured out a way to keep it functioning normally. Victor, our boss, agrees that it’s a better alternative than shipping it off to Managua, where they’ll probably not find a solution for a few months, if ever. I call it a success. After poking around a few fetal dopplers with hopelessly broken probes ($100 replacement not likely when a stethoscope and wristwatch function just fine) and an ECG with severed leads, the maintenance staff showed us a problem they’d been having for about a year with their waste water handling system. They wondered if we could fix it, and we were very up front that we’d only ever been trained on medical equipment, so don’t expect too much. Instead, we translated the manual for the automated water level sensing switches, which were only in English and Japanese. It’s good to know we can be of many different kinds of help, even when there aren’t machines for us to fix. If we ever run out of things to do, I’m sure there’s a pile of work waiting for us in that department.
Today we spent a while talking with our maintenance guys (rather than working in solitude), and we learned quite a bit. We knew that the majority of the medical equipment in the hospital was donated from Japan when the hospital was built, and that with the donated equipment were manuals in Spanish. But it’s just the medical equipment that’s Japanese. Other machines that maintenance is responsible for (i.e. the water pumps, washers, dryers) are from the US or elsewhere. When they break, they often don’t even have the manual. In the case of one of the dryers, they were able to rig up a solution without it. For a faulty washer, they weren’t so lucky. Its faulty board is sitting in Managua now, and a replacement would cost thousands of dollars. For the US machines, they say parts are sometimes available. Victor said that replacement parts for the donated Japanese equipment are almost impossible to get ahold of.
I have been under the impression that there is a seeming lack of broken equipment in the hospital, perhaps because it’s just such a new hospital and things haven’t had an opportunity to break yet, but today we got a hint of the real situation. Things break all the time. Maintenance gets them back to as good of condition as they can, or if they’re just broken they might just stay where they are (a thousand pound washer would be tough to move to the maintenance workshop). We haven’t had to venture out much yet, as they’ve been keeping us reasonably busy. It’s kind of cool we’ll get to discover new things about the hospital, probably right up until the time we leave! Though hopefully not too late to help, if we can.
I really enjoyed visiting Granada this weekend. It was so great to see everyone again! Talking to everyone about what we were doing in our hospitals was a great way to get ideas about things to do in ours. Among other things, we viewed cool colonial architecture, sampled the local cuisine (dirt cheap, by the way), and took a boat tour to the islets of millionaires.
To anyone who may travel abroad in the future, I advise you check the expiration date of not only your passport, but your other lifeline, your debit card, before leaving. Mine expired at the end of June and forced me to impose upon my fellow travelers. Lesson learned.
Next weekend we go to Ometepe! We’re taking a 3-day weekend. We convinced our boss by promising to pick up a few things in Managua while we’re there. Helping the hospital and helping us enjoy our weekend vacations, I call it a success.
So much for hitting the highlights. Until the next novel!