Friday, June 4, 2010

First Week in Bolivia

I would have written sooner but it's a little difficult to find time among all the things we are doing. We got in on Sunday morning at about 6am after flying to Miami and then La Paz. A lot of flying. Very long flights. We were met by Mr. Gonzalo who is our liason/coordinator for the volunteering we are doing. He helped us get a taxi which took us to our homestay. We are on the fifth floor of an apartment complex and staying with a woman named Olga. She speaks essentially no English but among our group of three (Nourah, Me, and John), Nourah and I usually are able to make sense of things. We were considering taking Spanish lessons, but we placed as intermediate/advanced so we weren't sure it'd be worth our money. Anyway, we napped that first day, then met Nathalie, one of our professors, at a coffee place in one of the plazas. We then explored the area a bit, did some shopping, that sort of thing.

The next two days were kind of a blur of meeting with Gonzalo to discuss the cultural and social climate here in Bolivia, discuss our role in the hospital, how we can contribute, that sort of thing. We also were joined by a physician from Touro, Dr. Mokari, who is hanging out at the hospital with us. We visited the hospital and were introduced to people but didn't stay long enough to do much else. Then we returned, have been eating out a lot and getting drinks, that sort of thing. We saw Prince of Persia the other day in Spanish, have gone on two bus tours, and the like. We're starting to get a pretty good feel of the city, including which taxis and minibuses are sketchy.

First day in the hospital I chose to follow an infectious disease epidemiology specialist - of course - and we saw four cases of Dengue fever (apparently really unusual for this time of year), a case of gallbladder stones, and then discussed the etiology, causes, diagnostics, treatments, etc. Today I saw a patient with tuberculosis, got to look at his X-Rays and auscultate his chest. It was really interesting. I was also shown around the SUMI office, which is insurance for low income individuals and they keep tabs on the most significant infectious diseases or conditions including yellow fever, leishmaniasis, rabies, influenza, tuberculosis, dengue, AIDS, hanta virus, polio, rubella, measles, etc. We're going to do a survey on Monday, and this weekend our group is going to do a biking trip to the rainforest, hopefully! Until then!

1 comment:

  1. Biking trip to the rainforest...sooooo jealous...