by Orville Bignall, MD
Meharry Medical College
I am sorry it has taken me this long to post again; the work here in Guyana is so great, and keeps me busy and exhausted. I’ll try to do better this week.
Today, I’ll share a bit about my hospital. Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) is the primary referral center for the country of Guyana. The “Accident and Emergency” Department treats roughly 75,000 patients a year. In a country with a total of only about 750,000 people, that’s roughly 10% of the nation’s population. To get an idea of what that’s like, imagine if one emergency room in the United States saw 30 million patients a year!
Unfortunately, the hospital lacks many resources US hospitals take for granted. Patient beds lack basic heart monitors, and IV lines do not have automated pumps to tell the staff how much medicine is being given to their patients. Lab results that would take minutes to obtain in the US take hours or days here. Even the blood bank can be critically low, sometimes having fewer than a dozen units of blood for the entire hospital!
As is often the case in resource limited settings – including in America – the lack of high-tech equipment, fancy tests, and expensive medicines means that the doctors here are skilled at diagnosing disease by relying on their brain and not a computer. The physicians at GPHC are some of the smartest I’ve ever met! Here I learn to think outside of the box to deliver the best care possible. I’ve learned to not only appreciate the luxuries I have as a doctor in America, but I’m acquiring the creativity and brilliance necessary to take care of all my patients, no matter the situation.