EWH Summer 2011 - Central America Blog
Monday was our first official FULL day of classes. Our class schedule was EXACTLY as described to us in our Go-Packets we received a few before we arrived in Costa Rica. We have 4 hours of all-spanish speaking spanish class, 1 hour lunch, 1 hour lecture, and the lab to end the day. The first day was the hardest because I was on information overload! In my mind, I was translating English to French, since that is was is most spoken with my Dad (along with Haitian French). I kept accidentally slipping with French words and what's so ironic is my family cannot get me to speak French willingly at home. We started off with the basics -ser and -estar and went through adjectives, adverbs, and  verbos en -ar, -er. We have homework assigned every night which usually consist of sentences that used what we learned in class and the maquinas (machines) that we will/are using :). I've been writing my sentences as statements that I will use in the host hospital so I can get extra practice beyond the conversational portion. It is quite difficult but I'm pretty sure I'll know quite a bit of Spanish.
Because our lecturer Rick was stuck in Guatemala for a few days, we had J.J. (The on-the-ground coordinator) and James (the lab instructor) lecture our group for the first couple of days. Our first lab consisted of soldering and building an extension cord/outlet. Surprisingly, some people have not solder before so I can appreciate this lab plus it gave me a chance to brush up on my techniques. We then began learning about Centrifuges, their functionality, common problems, and basic parts knowledge. Once Rick (our lecture instructor) arrived, we began discussing ESG's and Pulse Detectors. At this point, we haven't physically in partners opened up these machineries and tried to troubleshoot problems but have the basic knowledge of the machines and most common problems encountered in the hospital. The most common problem is surprisingly user error where the persons handling the equipment are too rough with the plugs, wires, or are incorrectly using them.

Friday we had our first hospital visit :)!
We had to be at the school at 7:00 am for us to split into 2 groups (with our partners, mine being Leah) and visit 2 of the Public Hospitals of Costa Rica. The hospital I visited was about 2-3 hours away from the city but serves 40,000 people per year, wealthy or poor. The healthcare system there treats everyone the same and charges the same fee for their services. The team of engineers are very knowledgeable of the hospital and the equipment. Our day started with an introduction of the hospital system and the technical staff. There were 5 engineers, including the lead engineer, on staff who were very knowledgeable with their skill, the hospital, and the equipment. Some of them knew English but not fluently. Our tour began with visiting their Butterfly Garden located in the hospital. It was beautiful! It is generally used to treatment but we were able to walk in and sit and have butterflies fly all over and I even held one! They came in various colors and sizes and with very unique designs. Some of them were as big as my hand! I know my mom would've loved to see this! Afterwards, we watched them perform the fire training of the staff where the firefighters came and had the staff extinguish a fire. As we continued through the hospital, we toured through each wing looking at incubators, x-ray machines, mammography machines, and finally got our hands on some broken equipment. I was with the group who were investigating the broken incubator (thank goodness because the report I have to write for spanish class is about the baby incubator!) The problem with the incubator was that the "portable battery" on it was dead but it was still able to work, just only when plugged into an outlet. Still, we took it apart to see what makes up the components for the thermostat and the sensors. We also tested to see how many decibels can be heard inside the incubator and if the thermometer was accurately reading the temperature inside the incubator, which are two very very very important things to be functioning. We ended of the day with watching/participating with another group as they tried to fix a Fetal Doppler. The wires connecting the sensor to the machine were damaged but very small and sensitive to repair. It would take general cutting of the wire, stripping, and re-soldering to fix but since the wires were so close together and so small, it had to be done VERY carefully. Unfortunately it still didn't work afterwards but we did learn something in the process through observation.

I am beyond excited to be working at a hospital AND repairing equipment! I've heard stories of previous summer students being in the OR during an operation, having the equipment stop working all of a sudden, and FIXING IT IN THE MIDDLE OF SURGERY! Now that may or may not happen but it's amazing to hear the kinds of opportunities this program can give. It does get hard sometimes being so far away from home but everyone is in the same boat so we feed off of each other. I am SO READY FOR MONTEVERDE this weekend!
7/23/2012 09:52:07 pm

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