Published: October 19th 2007October 19th 2007
The new medicine cabinet with a lock!
The older boys cannot go rummaging for "tylenols" anymore...
Sick of sick
I am so tired of being sick…waking up every day and then crashing again after a shower or sweeping out the house.
Whatever this is (I refuse to go to the hospital as my fever is stable) it SUCKS!
I obviously haven’t written much in the past three or four days again, but I promise to get back to it. I could tell you all about the inside of my house or the ceiling or even the social habits of the friendly chink chok (gecko) that have keep me company in the last few days of doing nothing but laying down or reading.
I don’t even have any good pictures!
I want to thank the few people who responded to my plea for monies to purchase the refrigerator, we have one selected and when we return from Bangkok (leaving in two days) we will be setting up the infirmary. (I will be taking pictures!)
I received offers of donations in excess of what we need to purchase the refrigerator, but I want to tell you about the main project that I will be fundraising for this trip.
First a little
The first step is encouraging keeping the wounds clean...
background. Obviously if you have been following along with my blogs, you will note that medical care is a major issue here. I was so motivated to do something about it and be more useful when I arrived back here that I enrolled in a Paramedic course when I got home last time.
In January last year, there were 27 children here in residence. None of them had medical insurance. This essentially means that any time a child was sick, injured or needed a doctor for emergency or ongoing care, the orphanage had to weigh the severity of the illness against how much cash was in the coffers at that moment. Given the waning of sponsorship in the past two years, the child was often treated “as best they could” without consultation of a doctor.
I want to give you some examples of what that means. First, if there was any medication (of any type, in any form) in the common fridge, it was used. This could mean a child with a rash would receive a dose of someone else’s antibiotics that may or may not be expired and definitely did not have ANYTHING to do with their
One of Nen's rashy spots...
note the size, she has patches on her elbows, forearms and wrist as well.
own individual symptoms.
A child with a fever would be washed down and then ignored until the fever caused concern. At this point, they would dose the child with some Paracetamol from the fridge…again whoever’s and however much could fit into one tablespoon.
Any would be ignored until brought specifically to a staff members’ attention, or a staff member that knew what to do. More often than not I have seen staff look at a wound, shrug and walk away if the child is not crying.
If…IF…a child was taken to hospital, the cost was significant. It is 1000 Baht to see the DR, 3000 Baht to stay the night and medicines on top of that at approximately 2000 Baht a day if intravenous is used. In a country where the average minimum wage is 3000 Baht a month, that is a lot of money for a visit. To put it into further perspective with regards to the children at Ban Tharm Namchai, there are currently 22 children with group sponsors (a church or business, etc from overseas), a further nine are sponsored individually by five independent sponsors. Each child receives between 1000 and 3000 Baht a month.
Infected of course...as the water is full of various bacteria.
Additionally, operation funds come from the Duang Prateep Foundation for the operation of the orphanage building.
Since my arrival six and a half weeks ago, five children have been hospitalized (I have paid for two of them myself, three had medical insurance purchased last January [thank you Papa]) there have been 12 cases of chicken pox, 14 cases of mumps…three severe fevers and there are four children suffering from ongoing infections, rashes or chronic illness including a heart condition.
The reality is that without medical insurance and the ability to see a doctor when needed; and the awareness of when it IS needed, this can be a very dangerous place.
The approximate cost for 45 children for full coverage medical insurance for one year is $800-850 CDN. I am determined to purchase this before I leave. The volunteers from Life After Wave have donated a portion of their sponsorship funds towards this project and we will be placing a plaque on the medical case they provided with the names of all the medical insurance sponsors.
One child would equate to about $18.00 CDN for those interested in sponsoring one child in particular. I am also hoping to leave monies for future children that Rotjana brings here. However much I can afford.
On that note, there have been two more additions to the orphanage in the last week. One little girl Ep, who is 12, arrived two days ago. She and her mother Pue came looking for shelter her ex-husband who threatened her with a knife to her neck. The police suggested she come here. Mat is an 18 month old boy who is going to be day care only. His mother ( a single parent) must work between 7am nad 5:30 pm everyday and Mat has nowhere to go during this time. He is too young to attend the nursery school so he will come here. I mentioned to Rotjana that a daycare operation would be a great idea, but that would require a major project.
I need to emphasize that I am not judging anyone here or how they do things. I am simply showing how things could be improved by the introduction of the ability to go to the clinic or hospital.
Additionally, today we have a nurse coming to speak to the staff. She will be giving a basic hygiene course to the staff. I am praying that this information will take and be adopted as regular practice.
It is so difficult to change the mindset of a way of doing things. This is the largest obstacle in the villages where there is limited “proof” of the benefits of change and safety lies in doing things traditionally…despite its success or failure.
I am not here to save the children or change the world. I am here to share what limited knowledge I have of things that may help to make the lives of these kids a tiny bit safer, a tiny bit more learned.
Just being here allows them to see that people are different and that one can question why something is the way it is.
Back to the medical issue. Rotjana has given her blessing for the volunteers to coordinate the nurse coming and the attendance of the staff. We are meeting with some resistance already however, but are hopeful that enough staff (there are 12 in total) will attend. If they can hear it from a thai professional it may “stick” better than from a white farung.
When Jing jang was hospitalized earlier this week with a fever that took the HOSPITAL staff medicines, ice packs and a cold saline drip to affect, I got scared. When JJ seized after being treated with cold water rags for more than 12 hours with a fever of a steady 103/104 (this is brain damage range!) I realized, I needed to do something.
I also want to mention that JJ is not yet back from the hospital. It has been five days.
Medical insurance for the children is only one part of the solution to this issue. Staff awareness and the social acceptability of hospital care also need to be addressed. With the help of Rotjana’s encouragement that the staff listen to us, the nurse and insurance for each child, I think we can make a change.