Loose in Cambodia

Day One at Fred Hollows Foundation eye camp

CAMBODIA | Monday, 18 February 2008 | Views [741]

18.2.08

First day of the eye camp.

I was briefed on the way to the camp that, for the entire week, Fred Hollows Foundation was supporting free surgery for eligible locals. I wasn’t sure what to expect when we arrived at Baray Santuk Referral Hospital but I immediately knew we were in for a busy time. People were crowding around the door to the consultation clinic and inside was packed like a city bus at peak hour. People were congregated in the shade around the hospital grounds waiting their turn. The Fred Hollows staff worked madly with the consult doctor giving eye tests all morning. The test consisted of an eye chart taped to the back of a chair and the patient indicating what they could see. Everyone was busy up until lunch time when the crowds started to thin out. In the four hours of consult, 262 people’s cases were assessed. Out of that staggering number, 190 of those patients were sent for surgery.

In another building patients were lining up and being prepped for surgery. The patients lined the corridor and the queue continued out the doors and onto the lawns surrounding the building. Inside, two basic eye doctors, two basic eye nurses and the anaesthetist worked through their lunch breaks performing eye surgeries into the evening. The anaesthetic bed sat in the waiting room where the doctor would prep each patient and moved them onto the surgery room like a factory assembly line. The patients would wear stained old laboratory coats over the top of their clothes and shower caps on their heads to go into surgery. Cataract blindness is the most common eye disease in Kampong Thom followed closely by ptyergiums.

Sophavid and I spoke to a lot of patients waiting for surgery but we couldn’t find an appropriate case study for my podcast. Also, the language barrier made me feel a little out of my depth at first to be of any help to the team. The entire day was a blur and by the end of it, we were all keen to go home and have a rest for the night because we all knew tomorrow would be the same.

Tags: Doctors, hospitals & health

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