What a day! Along with the 230+ patients the clinic saw today, we were also visited by the U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh's wife, two national newspapers and a local news crew that managed to get their camera in and out of every tight room we occupied. Those that sought help yesterday were all ages, it truly was incredible. The medical records department, headed by Sherry, saw and entered every single patient that walked through our doors. Screening involved the help of 20 local volunteers that were invaluable to the team. They did initial interviews, interpreted for the surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologies, pediatricians, dentist and speech pathologist. They also helped organize the chaos that lead to a very successful day, ending in 97 scheduled surgeries in seven days.
The wife of U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh visits the hospital during in-take
The scene at Nurture Hospital was crowded but generally happy. Groups of families waited downstairs on the first floor for their number to be called to come upstairs. Our office was a long hallway with six rooms, each having a specific function. As patients were guided through, they were consulted by the surgeons and then seen by the pediatricians and anesthesiologists, had their hemoglobin and other vital signs examined, then finished by seeing our dentist and speech pathologist. Like I said, it was organized chaos.
Surgeons doing a consultation of a young boy.
I, as the photojournalist, was lucky enough to see and meet every patient that came in yesterday. I was so humbled by their grateful, happy spirits, the smiles on their faces, and how they tried to speak English with me as much as they could. One little girl, dressed in a purple salwar kameez, was carried over to me by her mother, looked me in the eyes, smiled and said "Thaaaaaaaaaaank Youuuuuuuuuuu." I was rejuvenated. There were so many kids like her, with their tiny voices saying thank you. One mother was trying to get her daughter to look at the camera for me, and she said "auntie, auntie" and the little girl turned and looked and gave me a huge smile. Oh man, I love these kids. I'm hooked.
The line waiting to be screened during in-take day
The majority of surgeries scheduled over the next seven days are cleft lip and palate, however there are a large number of burn related surgeries as well. It's nice that the surgeons have flexibility in what they can do, so we can treat more children, whether they have cleft issues or not. It's great to say that we have a happy and enthusiastic group of patients, and it's going to be exciting to see them throughout the next week.
Pediatrician Leonard Friedman interacting with a patient.
Other eventful activities: we had a wonderful welcome dinner hosted by the Rotary clubs of Chittagong and neighboring areas. The enthusiasm these Rotarians have can get anyone excited. They are a wonderfully jovial bunch with a true love of service for others. I will say, I have never received so many flowers in my life. Three bouquets and the richest lei I have ever laid eyes on. We also enjoyed a lovely dinner hosted by the Ispahani family in their home on a little oasis in the midst of chaos that is Chittagong. Their genuine hospitality made us all feel very welcome.
The team at our welcome dinner hosted by the local Rotary club.
Tomorrow surgeries begin! Write to you then!