On Monday, August 13th, I had my orientation to my volunteer project. I met up with a representative from la Fundacion Simon Bolivar, the organization based in Ecuador that coordinates all of the different volunteer projects, named Herman. He showed me how to get from my host family’s house, which is across the street from the school, to the hospital using a bus. We talked about the project and made small talk on our way there. I was put in the volunteer program at Pablo Arturo Suarez Hospital, a federally funded hospital where all the services are free. I met the director of the program and I was shown how to get to the office where we sign in and change into our uniform. Herman then told me about the rules of the program and how the program got started. Afterwards we went to go buy my scrubs and shoes.
I also started my Spanish classes that same day. Since I already had a strong background in Spanish, being a native Spanish speaker and a Spanish major, my teacher, Adriana, and I spent class learning common medical terms and phrases I would need for my volunteer position. Oftentimes we would get off topic on the lesson to talk about topics surrounding healthcare in the United States and Ecuador. The best part of the lessons was that they were private and customizable. The teacher took into account whatever special topics I wanted to learn and molded her lesson to what was most relevant for me.
My first day at the hospital was difficult yet exciting. I woke up at 6am to catch the bus to the hospital and be ready for my shift at 7:30am. Once I got dressed into my scrubs and signed in, the director of the program, Fernanda, suggested that I work in Traumatologia, the trauma unit. I soon learned that most of the patients in this department have some type of bone fracture that needs surgery. The auxiliaries taught me how to clean and disinfect the beds. I was also able to assist in bathing some of the patients that could not get out of bed. The best part of the job was talking to the patients and hospital workers. This was definitely an experience I would not get in the US!