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Volunteers' Stories




Care for Children at a Children's Hospital in Mendoza, Argentina


I am getting to observe everything that they do (doctors, social workers, psychologist, nurses, nutritionist) in this small hospital for malnourished children. I also occasionally get to help examine patients as well, and when there is not a lot going on with the outpatients downstairs, I have time to go upstairs to play with the children and help during feeding times.

The people at the hospital and my family here have been the best thing about the experience so far. Both have been extremely patient, generous, friendly and supportive throughout my entire stay here.

It has been an incredible experience where I gained an incredible amount of exposure to local culture, Spanish, local paediatric medicine, and incredible people.

Can you describe a typical day?

I am at the hospital Monday-Friday from about 9am to 1pm. I leave the house around 8:15am to catch the bus to take me to work. Tuesdays and Thursdays are our busiest days for outpatient office visits, during which we usually check heights, weights (and head circumferences when appropriate) and do brief patient interviews and exams in order to monitor patient progress.

After outpatient visits, we go upstairs where there are anywhere between 20-26 inpatients from ages 0-5years (usually) who are staying at the hospital in order to improve their nutrition. Most of their mothers are there with them, but there are a few that are staying there alone.

The doctors see each inpatient and write notes in each chart, and I sometimes help examine the patients or other times go to play with the patients in the playroom or help with giving them breakfast or lunch. This is also what I do on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays when we have far fewer outpatient office visits.

Every Wednesday we also have about a 1-2 hour meeting with the entire team to discuss the progress of each inpatient child since the previous week. At around 1 or 1:30, I catch a ride from either the psychologist or one of the doctors back to the centre of town (near my home). I do not come back in the afternoons (I therefore eat lunch at home), but I know the busiest time for the hospital team is in the morning.

I also had the opportunity to spend one morning at the local Children's Hospital with Dr. Mariana Garcia, and last week I spent two days at a Children's Malnutrition Conference for nutritionists and paediatricians from all over the country of Argentina.

I have also been taking Spanish classes two afternoons per week at the language institute, and I have had time to take excursions for horseback riding, rafting, canopy, touring the surrounding mountains and touring the local wineries in the afternoons and on the weekends.

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Last modified: July 12, 2011