EWH Summer 2011 - Central America Blog

Usually for the first day of school, you would take out your clothes the night before, go to bed anxious and wake up earlier than usual. I will admit to putting out my clothes the night before and I fell asleep quite early. We were expected to arrive at the hospital by 8:00am and be picked up by someone from the hospital. Unfortunately, no one came to pick us up but we definitely didn’t let that stop us. We knew we were to take the #2 bus towards Coxen Hole and luckily the bus picks up wherever, you just have to flag it down. When you think bus, you think school or Dart bus, but the bus is actually a van and can get very crowded in the morning. We made it to the hospital and our first task was to meet with the director. We met with the head of the administration and explained our need for inventory making and interviews and it went pretty smoothly. Mario, who works in administration, was the first person we met and was very nice! He speaks only Spanish but is very patient with my “sometimes” struggling Spanish. At least in every department, at least one person speaks English. Here on the island, there are two languages: Caribbean English and Spanish. Luckily, I can speak both given my Spanish is basic. Luis, the technician was very nice and took us all around the hospital to each department to assist with inventory. With that, we were able to get two medical devices to start working on, manual blood pressure devices.

Our breakfast and lunches are provided by the hospital, which is amazing! The meals consist of rice and beans and meats and plantains and all good stuff. Where the workshop is located is outside the main hospital which gets unfortunately extremely hot but there’s a mango tree right outside! Hopefully we can a fan put in the workshop so we aren’t sweating bullets over our work!

After work, we had to go find a cell phone because the ones we got with our equipment do now work in Honduras. We have the SIM cards and even minutes but unfortunately, no phone. Mario took the liberty to take us to the Mall to get new phones. He was so generous enough to wait for us so he could give us a little tour of the French Harbour. I definitely plan on spending a weekend there.

We got back to our homestay and ate dinner (which was delicious). The person who cooks our meals at our homestay has a little girl who is absolutely adorable! Funny thing is she will only say “Hola” to us, but if we ask her anything else, she’ll run away. Overall, I am definitely enjoying the first work day here and I’m excited for what is to come.


I had to wake up earlier than usual to walk to the ATM down the road. It was very nice outside for walking and I met someone who was exercising.  We chatted for a while (in Caribbean English) until I made it to the ATM. I needed some assistance with the ATM (since it is all in Spanish, I needed help determining how much $50 was in Lempira’s). The lady at the counter only spoke Spanish so I was able to be bilingual!

We decided to have our work days from 7am – 3pm. It works out where we have the afternoon to go to the internet café and look up information for repairs and calibration of certain devices near our homestay. Today, we would be working on the blood pressure devices and an autoclave. One of the autoclaves was donated but the instructions were all in English. We decided to translate the manual in Spanish and create a quick start guide as well as get the machine working.


The rest of the week consisted of us WORKING WORKING WORKING! Everyone around the hospital now knows who we are and what our job is. We cannot be more grateful for the staff being so nice to us and allowing us to walk through the hospital. We still have to take precautions when entering sterile areas by “suiting up” and be courteous to the patients there and their privacy. We finally successfully tested, cleaned test ran the autoclave to where it was back into service. With Leah’s drawings and my charts, we created a quick start guide to be taped on the wall for the staff. Our trial run consisted of 4 bags of small towels which were successfully sterilized. They are equipped with the temperature sensored tape to be sure the autoclave is accurately working.

Earlier in the week during our tour, we ran across blood pressure apparatus’ that were waiting repair. Today we calibrated 2 and sent one back onto the floor. So far we are off to a great start. After a long day of work, we are able to get to our homestay, change, and walk over to the beach! The best thing to do after a long day of work! Unfortunately, today after work, I was exhausted and just went to sleep to a movie.


Today, we did our first interview all in Spanish with our technician. I had a little bit of a problem with my Spanish reading the questions off of the computer but it was easier to try to re-word the question in Spanish with what I know and describing what the question is asking. Afterwards, I went to do a needs assessment interview with the Head of the Nursing department. The interview lasted about 30 minutes to an hour. I learn quite a bit and now we have plenty of ideas for our secondary project. We are considering 2 things but have to do more research. We also went back to the sterilizing room and ran through the instructions again with the staff to be sure they understood our quick start guide and the instructions we gave them. We noticed, however, the dials on the machine were also in English so Leah took the liberty to translate them and put labels on the machine.

Now with every device we receive, we notice the manuals (if there are any) are in English and sometimes in a completely irrelevant language like Korean or German! Part of our job here will be documenting all of the quick start guides and translations we make and created a “big book of everything” for them to have.

As we passed the ER department, the head of the department stopped us and asked us to take a look at a few of their machines. I started on the patient monitor while Leah was looking at the ECG machine. With every machine we touch and come in contact with, we must document in an excel spreadsheet to be sent at the end of the program. So far, we have listed about 20 machines! We have our work cut out for us.

I ended the day with a trip to the internet café to talk to my dad y mi novio Robin. I ended up chatting with some of my friends from home. Leah mentioned something interesting about the “culture shock”; in Costa Rica, there wasn’t a heavy culture shock because of the similarities and the resources that we available. The water was safe to even drink in San Jose where we could shower without worrying if any will fall into our mouth or on our face and in our homestay particularly, we had wifi most of the time (random times it wouldn’t work), we were around a lot more students and it was somewhat Americanized in a sense that we had similar luxuries. Here in Honduras, we are entering a new environment! I’ve never had to worry about the water to the point where I brush my teeth and wash my face with bottled water, a lot more people speak only Spanish which is good practice for me but also very different that I have to really “translate” what I want to say. It’s similar to my family’s home countries with the “island feel” and Caribbean English present in some areas but I will say I do miss my family and friends. Homesickness isn’t the place so much as it is the people I miss.


Today marks our first official work week completed and we’ve accomplished so much! Today we fixed 3 more blood pressure apparatus’ and sent them back on the floor and continued working on the devices from the ER. I am truly excited that they are sending us machines to fix! Some students in previous years said they would have to go hunt for them but luckily they come to us as well as we go to them. We have quite a bit of work ahead of us for this month. The troubleshooting techniques we learned from JJ, James, and Rick really does help keep us from taking apart the entire machine come to find out the problem is the fuse! Also, we have next week to look forward to getting heavly involved with our work!  

4/16/2012 03:48:40 pm

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