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Week 2: a rough week (part 1)

Posted by Rachel Ng, MD (a second year Internal Medicine resident from Kaiser Permanente, San Francisco serving a global health elective at John F. Kennedy Memorial Medical Center in Monrovia, Liberia through the Yale/Stanford Johnson & Johnson Global Health Scholars Program).


Over the weekend, my colleagues and I were invited to attend the LMDA (Liberian Medical and Dental Association) at the Firestone Hospital. Yes, Firestone—as in the headquarter plantations of the US rubber tire company of the same name. We saw never-ending hectares of rubber trees being tapped for latex. I got to see some greener parts of the country outside of Monrovia. It was refreshing. I heard that upcountry land is even more beautiful.

Modes of transportation
I just realized that there are no traffic lights or stop signs anywhere in the city or from between the city to the airport. Thus, one always hope that cars would yield if one is trying to make a turn or else crossing a street by foot. The roads have significantly improved over the past 2 years already by being paved and with street lights installed. There are still many parts of downtown and smaller streets with pot-holes and unpaved areas. Motor vehicle accidents, similar to global statistics, is not uncommon and likely near #1 cause of death. 1 month ago, a public bus driving across town rammed into a gas tanker that was on the side of the road. The mass casualty caused chaos for the hospital ER. I think 1/2 of the busload survived. One unfortunate evening, had to ride in a semi-stationwagon-like taxis with 9 other people (3 in the front, 4 in the back, and 3 in the hatchback trunk—absolutely crazy). Apparently this happens also not uncommonly. I’m just glad I wasn’t one of the statistics.

My frustration with X-rays
This week has been one long mission on getting chest x-ray for my patients. First, the x-ray machine was not working. Then the x-ray machine was fixed but no films were available. My patient who had a pneumothorax, PNA, and pleural effusion, with chest tube was unable to get a CXR until almost 1 week later. Thank goodness he’s okay. Chasing after labs…also another similar story.

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