Working at the emergency section of a hospital can be very challenging. The experience can really test your tolerance level. And having worked at the Port Moresby General Hospital as a resident medical officer (straight out of medical school), I can tell you I had some very trying moments.
Later I worked as the ER medical officer after hours at the Pacific International Hospital and the Private Hospital, opposite PMGH. These expiriences gave me an unique perspective in ER room in a public hospital and a private hospital in PNG.
This post is about one those experiences – parents bringing their children to ER. When I was a working at PMGH ER (2002) the 4:00pm – 10:00pm shift was chaotic! Maybe its a bit more organised now? The children’s outpatient would close at 4:00pm and the remaining patients would be refered to the ER. Then between 6:00pm – 10:00pm parents who are working would bring their children in.
And I remember seeing nurses and sisters, even doctors sometimes (myself included on occasions) either shouting or scolding a parent for not bringing in their children when the child first started being sick. But we forgot that children can be very well one minute but within a few hours can become very sick, depending on the nature of the illness. Instead of being compassionate and caring to the worrying parents, the parents were blamed for their childs’s severity of the illness.
I had a very unpleasant experience this week, bringing me back to my ER days at PMGH and made me realise how parents feel when their child is sick.
My one year old son started having flu on Friday last week. Then on Saturday he had a little diarrhoea and vomited twice. We thought it was probably a viral infection with the very cold weather (spring in Japan now but still very cold and snowing in some areas) and will soon pass. But last night he started vomitting continuosly and the diarrhoea worsened. At 1:00am my wife and I decided that it was best we took him to the University hospital which is 5 minutes from our apartment. It was the longest 5 minutes I ever walked – with the strong chilly wind blowing in my face with my sick son in my arms.
At the ER it was not an easy task trying to explain my son’s condition to the doctor with my limited Japanese! By 3:00am we got my son’s medication, came home and gave his first dose of treatment. The doctor on-call said my son had viral enterocolitis, which was common during winter in Japan. At home we could not sleep, with my son crying, twisting and turning all night till sunrise. He was really dehydrated and thirsty and wanted to drink juice and kept crying for it. But once he finished drinking, everything came back out. Even though, I am a medical officer, as a parent, I could not think straight.
So today I emailed by professor and told him I was not coming to the lab as my son was sick. Finally by 11:00am the diarhhoea slowed down and the vomiting stopped and he was drinking well. The color came back to his eyes and he looked more like his usual self. Boy, was I relieved!
This experience just made me realise how parents feel when they bring their sick child to the ER in PMGH or anywhere in PNG.