During the week of Dec 1-5 2014 we welcomed Jaedeanne, an Alcon employee from Texas who came to visit us through SEE International.  This is part 1/3 of a journal she kept while volunteering at the hospital.  Part II will be posted next week.

I get to scrub in for a surgery that she is doing for a tumor removal, and in the Operating Room, I meet Dr. Kevin Winkle for the first time. Even though he has his surgical mask on, you can tell that he has the biggest, most genuine smile. As I begin to acclimate myself to the environment in the OR, I notice that most of the surgeons are barefoot. There are also four other surgeries occurring at the same time in the one room. Surgeons are walking back and forth between patients – offering advice and chatting with the couple of anesthesiologists.

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After lunch, the doctors and nurses gather in the main exam room. Dr. Heidi uses this time each day to present interesting cases to the staff and to utilize them as teaching opportunities. She sometimes has to ask her questions repeatedly because of the language barrier, but you can see the doctors’ eyes light up when they make the connection. And wow….they see some interesting cases at CSC….

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Teams of surgeons visit Children’s Surgical Centre throughout the year. The week that I was there, a team of surgeons from France were also visiting and performing E/N/T surgeries. Often, CSC will send representatives out to the rural villages in Cambodia looking for specific cases to come in to the clinic depending on the upcoming surgeons. I’ve heard that telling these families to come into the city is comparable to telling them to go to the moon –they’ve never even seen a city, let alone thought they would ever visit one. We saw many congenital glaucoma, strabismus, amblyopia, and pediatric cataract cases during our week there.

When the families come to CSC to see the doctors, they sometimes stay at the clinic for over a week at a time. If they are lucky and there is space available in the wards, sometimes they can get a cot to sleep on. We saw many families sleeping on benches or even the floor. It was humbling to see the personal sacrifices they would make for an opportunity for an improvement in their health or eyesight. I hope I can remember these families the next time I’m waiting in a physician’s waiting room and grumbling about my appointment being 15 minutes late….

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P.O. Box 1060, Phnom Penh, Cambodia