First day of volunteer work in Meenakshi…

Today has been the most incredible day ever. This morning we headed to work for 9 a.m., signed in with our supervising nurse, Meena, then headed to our different departments. Today, I was in the Obstetrics and Gynaecology department. I started out in the High Depedency Unit (HDU) and the female surgeon there was fantastic. As soon as I arrived, she started explaining things, what was what and how much I’d be able to do. Most of my work involved taking the vital signs,  blood pressure etc but within ten minutes of arriving Dr Sophia allowed me to remove a Foley’s catheter from the urethra of a woman who has just undergone a C section. I was shown how to inject a needle for an IV drip but I don’t really fancy working wth needle as only the doctors have disposable gloves and they are washed and reused.

The hospital is huge… really, really massive. Luckily the layout is quite simple so I’m finding my way about already. The hospital is very advanced in some areas but 50 years behind in others. Most of the meds come in 2 ml glass vials which the nurses have to hack open with a rusty strip of metal. I witnessed one nurse open eleven different vials when she only needed four…  they keep smashing all over the place because there was no easy way to open them. The nurse actually ended up cutting her finger and it bled quite heavily. Despite the fact that she would be using her bare hands to rub alcohol on the wounds and stitches of women who had just undergone operations, there was no bandage, cotton wool or plaster to cover her wound. I offered her a plaster from my bag and as soon as she took it, all the other nurses flooded over to her, examining this plaster which was very obviously new to them. I just can’t believe that a hospital which uses fingerprint technology to safegaurd the Intensive Care Unit can’t provide gloves or plasters. Saying that, I think a lot of the better equipment has been donated by large companies.

In Indian hospitals, no food is provided for the patients so it is up to their families to bring their meals. Madurai is well known for its medical facilities and there are ‘hospitals’ (more like clinics) everywhere. Families will often travel hunderds of miles over many days to reach Meenakshi Mission Hospital. The relatives stay, eat and sleep on the corridor floors whilst their relatives are being treated.  When there are (scheduled) power cuts both the patients and their relatives lie on the foor, taking refuge from the heat under the shade of the hospital beds. 

At the end of the day, Esther, Luke and I were asked to joined Naza, the volunteer coordinator, for some sort of photo op in a restaurant. We ended up being lead to the most beautiful five star hotel opposite the hospital. We were shown around the rooms and taken to the roof to enjoy the view. Afterwards, we were taken dowstairs to the hotel restaurant and given some pakora and a cup of tea.  At this point, some photographers started snapping away… I think they just wanted some ‘touristy types’ in the background shots.. anyway, the photos will be in a supplement of The Hindi, a very popular Sunday newspaper so we’ll defintely be buying that to see if our pictures have made it in to the article. Fingers crossed they’ll photoshop the mosquito bites off my face, haha! I only have two or thee bites… the first night at the beach in Kanyakumari it didn’t occur to me to spray my face… I quickly learned to spray EVERYWHERE! Anyway, because we were an hour late in the leaving the hospital, Naza arranged to have a car drive us home. We took a JEEP. You know you’ve made it big in India when you’re in a Jeep.  There are a few private cars but most Indians use a scooter or a motorbike. I have only seen one Jeep that did not belong to a government official or the police force so to be inside the Jeep was a huge deal. When Esther and I were dropped at the house, Sri and Sahrika (host father and daughter) were outside the front door playing badminton and they were so unbelievably impressed that we were dropped off in a jeep. Our host mother is called Guita and it’s her birthday today. The previous volunteers left her a saree as a present and she looks beautiful in it. I’ve attatched a photo of her in it along with some of the better photos I didn’t get a chance to upload yesterday. Anyway, I better head off for dinner. Tomorrow will be another busy day in the hosptal but I’ll be working in the Smile Train Clinic. Will update again soon, hope everyone is well xxxx


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. PB
    Jul 06, 2010 @ 14:23:32

    It all sounds amazing! Do you want someone to send you some latex gloves from UK and/or a top up for your first aid kit? The photos are superb. XXXXX


  2. Mum
    Jul 07, 2010 @ 07:41:56

    Hi sweetie
    I will send you a jiffy bag of gloves and plasters to your hosts’ address. So pleased that you are having a great time. Imagine that the Smile Train Clinic will be emotionally tough ~ stay strong honey. Love you xxxx


  3. DaJ
    Jul 08, 2010 @ 21:41:50

    Wow, sounds amazing… and quite shocking. Nice Photos, enjoy the rest of your trip!


  4. myindianadventure2010
    Jul 09, 2010 @ 10:34:18

    PB and Mum: Latex gloves would be much appreciated! I’m OK for First Aid stuff as there is a great pharmacy only 10 mins from the house so I’ve already stocked up with some more plasters 🙂 xxxxx


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