Ok, I have been furiously typing lately, so be prepared for a barrage of new posts. hope you enjoy them.

On Friday we went to the San Jose Children’s Hospital. It was once again such a highlight of my week. We went as a full group this time so it was a little different. We did not do any work on equipment but got to see a full tour of the hospital. This hospital was a little larger than some of the other hospitals we have been going to. Señor Martin Valverde gave us a tour to see some of the larger equipment that the hospital had and answered a lot of questions, and he was a fantastic tour guide.

This hospital is the only children’s hospital in Costa Rica. Only children under the age of 13 are allowed to use the hospital. They are one of the more intermediate size hospitals, with 300 beds (although that day they were only about 70% full) and because they are a little larger they are able to receive more money from the government. Unfortunately the costs are still high and there is always a huge need for more money and resources. The technicians only receive $1 million per year to repair all the equipment in the hospital. In Señor Valverde’s opinion, the newer equipment is far superior to old equipment for repairing because the parts are more readily available and designs are using less “kits” (aka some selection of parts that must be replaced on a regular basis). This hospital had a great room to store all the ventilators and incubators that were not in use. The hospital was actually designed and built by North American contractors so it is much more modern. They have a large industrial section in which they have large tanks of liquid oxygen, air compressors, and vacuum that is then pumped throughout the whole hospital. While this is quite typical in developed countries, it was impressive to see here. They also had some extremely new equipment such as a beautiful x-ray machine (apparently one of the only of its kind here in Costa Rica), a TAC machine, and an extremely nice head x-ray machine. These were all extremely impressive to see here, and it was quite apparent to me that this technician, and I am sure many of the people working in the hospital, was amazingly proud of the equipment.

They also had an impressive collection of calibration/testing equipment. This is the first I have seen of its kind here in Costa Rica. Essentially they had lots of tools for testing to ensure that the equipment they repair is functioning properly. One big problem they have with this equipment, however, is that it must be returned to the vendor for calibration every year. This requires that the equipment be sent back to the United States, and not only is this an extremely expensive process, it also means that the equipment will likely be gone for up to 3 months.  That means the hospital only has the equipment for 9 months of every year. Needless to say, much of the equipment has not been calibrated within the suggested time period.

I was also quite impressed to see a woman working as a technician in this department. Unfortunately I did not get a chance to speak with her, but when we asked the head technician he said that many more women are becoming involved in the technical industry.

I also asked Sr. Valverde about whether more of their equipment is donated or purchased. I think at this particular hospital most of their equipment is purchased new, however they do still receive some donations from hospitals in other countries. One issue he mentioned is that the benefits of some of these machines are not enough to outweigh the payments for maintenance, imports, taxes, insurance, etc. I have heard a lot about paying for maintenance and all the small replacement parts required in much of this equipment, but some of those other costs are not things that I have thought about. He compared it to someone giving you a Hummer, and all the hidden costs that arise with having such a nice vehicle. Initially it appears to be a great blessing, however in reality it becomes much more of a burden.

We got back from the hospital around lunchtime and then we went to watch Toy Story 3. However, the movie was only showing in the dubbed version, so I watched it in Spanish. It was AMAZING! I think I enjoyed it so much more because it was in Spanish than I would have if it was in English. I understood all of the plotline, and most of the lines. Of course there were a few that I didn’t quite catch, but overall it was spectacular. I think the best part, though, was the scene in which Buzz goes crazy and switches over to a Spanish accent. I was so proud of myself that I was able to catch the difference and it was hilarious. I just absolutely LOVE being able to sit and have conversations and understand. Yes of course it is still a struggle to speak sometimes, but it is so freeing to be able to mostly understand this other language. I just love it!

Oh we also had dinner at our Spanish professor’s (Gladys) house. She has a gorgeous house and cooked us a delicious meal. It was a lot of fun because one of the other teachers, Harry, is an excellent salsa dancer and I had a great time dancing with him and a few of the other guys on the team. I also got to have some sweet conversations with a few of the team members about what our passions are. I was reminded again of past dreams of working with prostitutes and assisting them in building skills. It is not something I have thought about for a while, but it is cool to think about again and it would be sweet to see if/how I could combine this love for technical work with assisting women out of prostitution. I think there would be a ton of really difficult stereotypes to break, but if that is a door that God opens for me I would love to see where that leads. In all, this trip is still showing me that this type of ministry is still where my heart lies and I am so blessed to be here right now.

Blessings to you all!

10/26/2010 01:55:14 am

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