Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Pediatrics in Fabella

I'm currently rotating in Pediatrics and I'm assigned to do ward work in Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital. This hospital is also dubbed paanakan ng bayan because of the multitude of women who choose to give birth here. It's cheap, almost free, really. You just have to be able to bear the smell and, if you're a patient, the horrible bedside manners of the residents.

A not-so-few words on the smell. There's a myth (a Philippine creation, I bet) that pregnant women shouldn't take baths, especially when they're about to give birth. Something to do with "mahahanginan ang matres" (air will supposedly enter the uterus) possibly triggering premature labor and delivery. So the mothers smell. Boy do they smell. Add to that pleasant aroma the sweet smell of lochia, the discharge that comes out of the vagina following delivery. The smell in this place, ladies and gentlemen, is one for the record books. As you enter the hospital complex, even just at the gate, you can start to smell this characteristic aroma found only in Fabella. It's pungent and sour and very unpleasant. Yucky and gross are understatements.

As clerks in Pediatrics, we usually stay at the Nursery, where babies are brought immediately after birth and just before being brought to their mothers to be roomed in. Here, we have a clear view of the delivery room, and we spend as much time at the DR as in the Nursery. There's one mother giving birth to a baby every 5 minutes. That is no exaggeration. Sometimes there are even 2 or 3 giving birth at any one time. I was told by the nurse that last year (2005), they delivered 26 thousand babies. That's from a single government hospital alone.

Despite all these unpleasant things we're faced with, I'm still very much enjoying this rotation. The pictures below will tell you why.

I apologize for the quality of the photos. I took them with my cell phone camera so it's not very clear.

The picture on the top is quite funny. The guy on the right was sucking on the forehead of the guy on the left. He was so into it that he was occasionally licking his lips before returning to his meal of vernix caseosa (the sticky white covering of babies when coming out of the womb). The picture in the middle is a little sad. That's 4 babies sharing 1 crib, waiting to be brought to their mothers for nursing and rooming in. This is usual in Fabella, 3 or 4 babies in a crib. Even their mothers in the ward share beds, sometimes 4 mothers to 2 beds. I took the last picture at the Neonatal ICU (NICU). They are admitted because they are of abnormal size. The one on the right (hanging on to the leg of the other baby) is large for gestational age (LGA, overweight in pediaspeak). The guy he's hanging on to on the left is small for gestational age (SGA, underweight).

This is what I've been doing for the past few days. Babies are a lot of fun as long as they're not whiny yet. I love 'em until just before the "terrible two's" when 2 year olds start to learn how to have tantrums. But generally kids are a lot of fun. So even with all the work, it's all good!


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Ronsaren said...

wow! Amazing photos. and you are right about the twos. i think the tantrums start even earliar, like 1 and half kee hee