Visit to St. Thomas Hospital
Message of the Day – Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity. – Hippocrates
I got to see the love of medicine and humanity today when Stephen took me to St. Thomas Hospital. It was a substitute for my daily visit to Assisi Illam, and while I missed playing with the children I was thrilled to see a local hospital up close. I’ve worked in hospitals both in the United States and Africa, so I was interested to see what hospitals in Asia would be like. I was very impressed.
St. Thomas is a 200-bed hospital that helps Chennai residents in need of inpatient and outpatient medical services. Sister Bernadette, a nun who provides prayer and spiritual care for Catholic patients, provided a guided tour of the facilities. The hospital was founded by another nun – who is also a doctor – and who once served with Mother Teresa. That in and of itself was impressive; but more importantly, she has built a multi-story, multi-building hospital with dialysis ward, surgical ward, and nursing school from a one-room medicine dispensary. Amazing. I am truly in awe of this woman’s tenacity, intelligence, and humanity.
Also, I was impressed with how well the hospital appears to function. As a person who has facilitated quality improvement initiatives in both high and low resource hospitals, I saw a lot of good work upon first pass. It made me wish I could stay longer and see more.
Alas, the morning passed quickly and the tour had to end. I was honored that the nuns invited me to come back and volunteer next time I was in Chennai. I’ll have to see if that would be possible.
Later that day, I was able to teach additional health education classes to the third, second, and first grade classes at Christ King School. Because they have had fewer lessons in English, I asked that the fourth grade teacher help translate the topics I covered into Tamil as I spoke. She was fantastic and really helped ensure that the children understood the concepts. I was honored when I saw that the first grade teacher had already posted the hand-drawn signs I made reminding students to wash their hands with soap and water, brush their teeth twice a day, and refrain from tobacco use. The support the school has shown me in teaching, whether it was English grammar or health education, has been tremendous. I wish all partners in life were this collaborative and helpful!
The night ended on a more creative note with the children at SEAM, who worked with Sheba and me on making paper crafts. It was a great time to connect with the kids and do something fun after a long day of touring and teaching.
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