Our first full day began with a 15-minute 8:00am taxi ride to the Miller Seventh day Adventist Hospital.
According to Josh, there are 150 patients to screen. A maximum of 100 surgeries can be performed, so some will be some turned away because of either age (too young) or an unhealthy weight. Like the obesity problem we have in the US, malnutrition is very common– especially in children with cleft lip and palate due to the complications the condition can have (it is very difficult to eat and drink). Additionally, a child cannot go into surgery if a in poor health (has a fever, hemophilia, etc).
The open air, non air conditioned gymnasium that served as the screening room also served as the pre op, postop, cafeteria, bedroom, bathroom, movie theatre, nursing station, and play room. The gymnasium, located on the 5th floor, only 3 stories above the operating room, is only accessed by ramps and was extremely crowded. There were 129 children that actually made it to the screening process along with mom & dad, siblings, grandparents, aunts & uncles, cousins– the list goes on. But as crowded as it was, all of them had the biggest smiles and showed such incredible friendliness and gratitude.
The bustle bothered no one.
Screening starts with a previous prepared list gathered by the rotary. Children then met with college students volunteering their time to assist with screening– checking spelling of names, taking the weight of patients, pictures, and assigning numbers. Sometimes they had to figure out age of the patient, the birthplace, or parents’ names. Even with the triple checks, we still had to rely on a lot of guesswork.
The whole process proved to be extremely tiring and often times confusing. It was hard to imagine that there was still more work to be done.
~ Karen Senders