January 31, 2012

Vanakkam from Kodai!

We started our journey to Kodaikanal on Friday with a lovely reunion in the Detroit airport.  Our journey then consisted of a 7 hour flight to Amsterdam, unlike US flights we were fed generously with tasty food.  Our 6 hour layover included passing by the casino, visiting the library, seeing the museum and enjoying the full sensory experience of the Bohls exhibit.  We then boarded our 9 hour flight to Mumbai arriving at close to midnight.  After passing through customs, discovering one donation bin had not made the flight, filing a lost baggage report, passing through the baggage scan several times, walking all over the airport to print an itinerary to board the bus to the terminal; we arrived at the ticketing counter only to discover we couldn’t actually get tickets to pass through the plane boarding security until 7:30 am.  So we spent the next 4 hours of our 9 hour layover people watching, playing pictionary, enjoying the airport fare and attempting to sleep (thanks to the car honking and constant flow of visitors, that may have been less then successful).  Our flight finally left the airport an hour late and we arrived in Coimabore, where the remaining bags met us as well as Arun, the FIMRC representative.  The car ride (a supposed 4 hour trek) consisted of a lovely feast of South India food at a local restaurant along the way, fresh coconut from a roadside stand, monkeys, birds, and gorgeous scenery. Unfortunately, the “Elephant Crossing” signs were false advertising. We arrived at our new home Monday evening around 7 pm.  Brian, a fogarty scholar and future Columbian medical student, met us and with Arun gave a great orientation. It was quite the traveling adventure and I’m pretty sure we were all very thankful for a nice warm bed to crawl into.
            Our first day in Kodaikanal we split into two groups.  Brian accompanied Paul and Emily to KMHC (a local hospital) where they witnessed a D&C as well as took history on a patient with ecclempsia for a presentation they will be giving tomorrow. 
Arun, Shawna and I went to Possum (?) Hospital.  Here is a short history lesson on the hospital.  The main physician of the hospital (Dr. Massa) many years ago met two German missionaries who discovered that his goal in life was to provide health care to rural India.  They brought him to Germany where they put him through high school, university and medical school.  His goal of providing health care to rural India landed him a spot in a very competitive ophthalmology residency in Germany.  He then returned to India and began his trek via a “lemonade stand” table on the side of the road providing eye care to local patients.  He grew his practice into one of four hospitals in the state of Timel.  He has already expressed his deepest thanks for whatever supplies we will be able to contribute to his hospital. Throughout the year, he hosts various physicians from all over the world to provide several “camps”.  The next two week camp is in March and will provide plastic surgery to hundreds patients suffering from severe function impairing contractures from burns.  The posters are quite graphic.
            The tour of the hospital started with the inpatient wards learning about the various patients in the ward.  One patient was a child who had received a 3rd degree burn saving his younger sibling from burning hot oil.  We also met the dentist, watched teeth cleaning and learned about dental care in the area.  We then proceeded to the laboratory where we watched blood glucose testing, the process of measuring hemoglobin by hand and provided a sample for a blood smear.  Many patients are attempting to get on the list for the plastic surgery camp so the hospital has a high prevalence of burn patients.  Several patients that are currently healing from burns receive daily dressing changed and wound debridement.  After watching the process for one patient we returned to the lab to examine the blood smear and then were whisked away to a wonderful Tibeten feast in the town for lunch.  Arun and Brian then took us on a walking tour of the town. 
            So far our tentative schedule includes continued clinical work in the two hospitals this week.  Next week we will be administering home surveys culminating in a health presentation addressing some of the local health concerns.  The third week we will be heading to a private hospital on the coast to experience the contrast between the two areas.  Arun and Brian have graciously left the fourth week open to be tailored to the interests of our group. 

Pictures to come...hopefully...


Anonymous said...

So glad you guys arrived safely. Have a great experience!!

MSU CHM Saginaw said...

Can't wait for pictures. So glad you arrived safely and are enjoying your new experience. Have fun!

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