I finished my first day at the hospital. It was a day to learn the layout of the land and to meet the staff.
The hospital sits on a large area in the center of Goma. Outside the hospital, throngs of people, both locals and internally displaced, walk the dusty streets. The buildings on the medical compound are mainly one story with open windows. Patients are separated in pediatrics, orthopedics, obstetrics and gynecology and surgery wards. Some wards are sparsely populated and some are overflowing. The pediatric orthopedic room had five beds with approximately 20 patients. Some patients shared beds, some were on pads and some were on the floor. There were no parents and the children seemed to be taking care of each other. A few were playing games, some were sleeping and the rest were lying motionless, staring at the new “Mzungus” walking in to the room. Each had casting material on their lower extremities. Patients were recovering from operations to correct deformities from polio, club feet, rickets, etc.
The general pediatric ward was our last stop on the tour. I spoke with two patients. One had severe hydrocephalus, developmental delay and a fixed downward gaze. He is hospitalized but there are no treatment options for now. He will likely die in his mothers arms in the coming weeks to months. Unfortunately, the mother has not been told of the prognosis.
The second patient just arrived to the hospital. He was severely malnourished. His arms, legs and buttocks had nothing except for skin. All of his ribs were visible and his abdomen was extremely protuberant. Luckily, he was still interactive, shook my hand and even smiled. I think he may do well.