It’s quite apparent, to anyone who knows me, that I am very organized and goal orientated. In fact it has been suggested I have a smidgeon of OCD and the exact same could be said of my friend & coworker Judy.
We used our spare time during our lighter day today sorting, cleaning and organizing our operating room. Last evening Tammy and I, while waiting for our patient, we sorted out all the supplies in our operating room storage area, a task we would have commenced quite some time ago had time committed. The whole entire Operating Room is quite haphazardly organized and cries out for us to straighten it out but we recognize that we can’t change medical culture nor the inherent cultural norms here although imposing our standards in the Operating Room does have some benefits. If you have the supplies, equipment or drugs but can not locate them then a life truly can be lost.
Which brings me to the cruz of tonight’s blog; our cultural norm versus the Haitian culture background. I remind myself daily that we aren’t here to change their system. We are here to help patients who would otherwise do without operations because they can not afford basic health care. We accomplished that goal and indeed we probably surpassed the usual number of operations that they perform in a week. We certainly worked significantly hard for those results.
There was a very steep learning curve for us in the Operating Room and we haven’t had a lot of support from the local staff. The bair hugger and the extra suction machine are still sitting where we put them outside the room two days ago. The bed has not been moved and the floor cleaned in the whole entire time we have been here. Both Edith and I (in different theatres) cleaned up the sutures but we didn’t take a before and after photo to show the massive difference.
There are lots of areas where we feel that the Haitian staff are less responsive to our presence. It begs the question about whether or not we are still valuable in this environment. The level of receptiveness varies day by day plus area to area but collectively across the board (ER, ICU and OR) there is a consensus that there is some resistance. We have all had our moments were we have hit the wall for a variety of reasons. We have been up and down emotionally over the week. Some have felt useless for periods or frustrated by the lack of support (like the OR nurses) and we wonder if it was worth while but perhaps we have will take home more emotionally from the trip than what we have given. We will truly recognize how fortunate and blessed we are in Canada and perhaps pay that gratitude forward in various walks of our life.
But we have came for the patients and we have all had those moments where we know that it’s all been worth while.