Bolivia’s Healthcare is very much reflective of the Culture

My experience yesterday at the hospital del ninos was the most hands on experience I have yet to have in my medical career. I was able to join the plastic surgeon, anesthesiologist, physical therapist, and the nurse in the sala de curacion. In this room we removed all medical wrapping on the following burns and re-treated the burns with new wraps. The doctor instructed that I cut through the wraps and unwrap till we reached the affected skin. For this particular patient he told me to be careful because there was a skin graft. At that moment I felt a lot of pressure since I had never had to do anything as such, so my hand started trembling. The doctor understood and did it for me to show me the proper way. We then placed cloths covered of povidone-iodine on the fresh wounds. Povidone-iodine is an iodine antiseptic used to prevent infection for exposed wounds. After placing the cloths, we then wrapped the patient so that all wounds were covered. Many of the patients I saw were second degree burns and children ranging ages 2-9 years old. All of the patients were given anesthesia according to the body part suffering the burn. Although what I saw was raw and gruesome, the reality of these burns made me realize that I would not want to be anything more than a pediatric surgeon.


The children patients of Hospital del Nino’s Quemados department




A week ago in my infectology round I got to hear one of the patient’s stories that really put healthcare in perspective. There was a girl around the age of 2 who unfortunately could not be helped in any way because none of her parents signed her liability/waiver form. This child was said to have been abandoned at the hospital. This was probably one of the saddest things I had witnessed. The child suffered of chronic pneumonia and a cleft lip. The child was in a critical condition and I was told that it was not uncommon for parents to abandon children like her in Bolivia. This was really sad to see because she had the biggest smile on her face and was never close to crying while her little body was hooked up to an oxygen tank. This story that I was able to see and experience rather than just hear made the reality of being a healthcare professional much more apparent. Although I wish the best for this child and her future, there was nothing I could do at the moment and it made me feel helpless and disappointed. I plan on using this story as a further incentive to find a solution to these issues and help more underprivileged children to achieve a happier and healthier life.


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