Friday, July 3, 2009

Patients and Public Relations

I spent a few moments with HOPE volunteer RN Carrie Reichert in the ICU this afternoon, while she was looking after Juan Jose, an 8-year-old boy who had just come up from anesthesia after a successful tonsillectomy, and his cheerful, hovering mother, Sandra. There were only two other patients in the ICU today, patients that for whatever reason were at higher risk for bleeding or other complications. In fact, in a “normal” hospital, they probably wouldn’t need to be in Intensive Care; but, we have the equipment, we have the space, and we have the staff, so it is no problem to give them an elevated level of care.

Getting the word out in the States about the daily struggles and triumphs of the volunteers and Navy personnel working here is a big deal, but the real heavy lifting comes in letting the rest of Latin America—and the world—know about what we’re doing here. Working through the embassy, Navy public affairs lead Matt Gill arranged for 5 different media outlets (television, radio, and print) to come aboard USNS Comfort today to tour the ship, meet the patients, surgeons, and nurses, and get a better picture of what we do here, how we’re helping.

I stayed with them for the entire tour, translating where necessary and doing a few interviews. Our first stop, of course, was the mess decks, where they got a taste of some good Navy chow. We then stepped through the patients’ process—Casualty Receiving, Pre-op ward (the Hotel), where we met Project HOPE volunteer RN Addy Wakeman, post-op wards. The cameras will get to see the OR and some surgeries tomorrow before they head home.

In the Hotel, one of the patients called out to a video crew (in Spanish):

“Hey, what channel are you guys?”“Channel four, my friend.”
“Oh, that’s the Salvadoran channel.”“…Well, yeah.”“We get Honduran television better here. Too bad.”

We’re anchored a mere 37 mile from the Honduran border, and due to the mountainous terrain, many of these Salvadorans get better reception from Honduras than from San Salvador, a three hour bus ride away.

After showing the media crews to their bunks, I stopped back by the ICU to see Juan Jose again. The night nursing staff was on, and he was now in the capable hands of HOPE volunteer RN Sarah Angelo. Both the boy and his mom were sleeping soundly—mom most likely because of exhaustion, the boy because of his hectic day.

On the post-op floor, HOPE night nurses Kelly Magee and Susan Troll were keeping things wrapped up as well. Kelly, who has been here since Miami, was in charge of the starboard wing, and Susan had six patients for the night in the port wing. Besides a few infants waking up now and again, only to be calmed by their mothers -- on the night shift, all was calm and quiet.

Thanks for reading-Jacob

No comments:

Post a Comment