Today, we went to PCOE, Pediatric Center Of Excellence – which was a center initially focused on HIV and AIDS but expanded its services once they realized the need for other services. We were fortunate enough to receive a tour of the place. I was quite impressed by the amount of things that were done there. Ranging from neurology, male circumcisions, speech, physio, and occupational therapy, to pharmacies, consultations, and sexual abuse check ups and consultations as well as early intervention group therapies for children with autism, and many more! The parents of children with HIV had to come in for a consultation to make sure that they were giving their children the correct medication. During the consultation, they had to bring in the medicine so they could check how many pills were taken and left since they were distributed. Then, they were asked to explain how frequently they were giving the medication along with the correct dosage.. Since the center wants to reduce the amount of HIV/AIDs in Zambia, I was impressed how they went the extra mile to ensure quality for the children and families. For example, when an individual is referred to another facility or department they call the family to make sure that they have reached the next destination to get the correct treatment they needed.
We were then presented a HIV/AIDs presentation by Alice and Sister Ornella and learned that all their services are free of charge to their patients. The facility sees about 1,200 patients a month, which means they see more than 14,000 patients a year – which is awesome because so many individuals utilize this facility! We were split up into rotations, and on my first rotation I worked on creating and laminating cards for communication boards and narratives stories for children at PCOE.
On my second rotation, I got to see a neurology consultation. The neurologist saw a child who had cerebral palsy and epilepsy. They talked about which types of medication to take and make sure they go through the process and meet with the pharmacist. She also was able to talk about the Complete Blood Count (CBC) Test results along with the Electroencephalogram (EEG) results. It was a great experience to see the differences between the PCOE at University Teaching Hospital in Zambia and compare it to the hospitals back in the U.S. I definitely learned a lot at PCOE about their facility, HIV/AIDs awareness and their services that they provide to the community of Lusaka, Zambia.
Later in the day after lunch, we went to Special Hope Network. When we arrived at our assigned compounds, there were families waiting outside the facility to get screened. They were waiting patiently and when we arrived, they didn’t rush or get angry with us when we were setting up our equipment or had technical difficulties with our OAE machines. They were very polite and understanding – it was very admirable, especially since sometimes we couldn’t perform a hearing screening because the child was crying or moving a lot.
The parents didn’t ask many questions but they were very understanding even though we had to refer some families to Beit Cure after waiting in long lines to get tested. I was very impressed by the cultural courtesies of Zambians. Comparing it to the U.S, I feel that people here in Zambia are very patient, polite and take things slowly (except for driving, of course). I definitely enjoyed the environment that we were placed in at The Special Hope Network, as there were lots of patients to see but none of the patients were impatient or tried to rush us after waiting so long. With the help of the graduate students, Katie and Gabby, at our compound – I feel that I am learning how to perform otoscopy and test/use the OAE machines better each day that we perform hearing screenings. I am definitely excited that I am getting more experience using the equipment and being exposed to the clinical settings of audiology. I am very excited for our day tomorrow at Beit Cure and for the rest of the experiences we will have during our stay here in Zambia!