Some thoughts…random and silly

Here, I tell you just a few random things about our experiences in Peru. 

  • The hospital was originally built as a tuberculosis hospital by an order of nuns.  This might explain why there is one main building and many outbuildings…perhaps the outbuildings were originally dorms/wards?  The fresh air rolling down the mountainside back then was likely good for tubercular patients, back when this was not the outskirts of urban-sprawling Lima, but way out of town. In the 1970’s, after an earthquake, the hospital was taken over by the government and converted to a full service hospital. 
  • Because of the type of construction, there are really no waiting rooms to be found.  Family members wait mostly outside, hoping to catch a breeze .  Shady spots are at a premium.
  • Many of the patients come from the foothill towns carved into the slopes just above the hospital.  At night, you can see the street lights of the settlements, but no lights in the houses.  The people do not have electricity for the most part.
  • If you are a patient at the hospital and you need medicine, your family member must go stand on line and purchase it.  If you have a cut and need stitches, the family must go and buy the sutures for you.  This is very different from the system you are used to if you are living in the USA.
  • Because the hospital campus is spread out (although with a fence around it), it is a great environment for…dogs and cats!  We watched the dogs enter between the slats of the front gate, coming and going as they pleased all day.  There were scraggly kittens staggering around, much to the amusement of the kids (well, really everyone cooed over the little fur balls).  At one point, the doors to Sagrada Familia chapel flew open, and a “congregation” of a dozen or so dogs came tearing out.  Was it the end of doggie mass?  Did they pray for more sandwiches to fall to the floor, and fewer cats to compete with for affection?  Or had someone just shooed them from their hiding spot…I prefer to think of them saying doggie prayers

There are many more details I can provide, but I think this gives you a bit of the flavor of our week.  The people we met were warm and welcoming, from the security guard to the chief of surgery, to the translators, to the parents, to the laundry workers…a bit of my heart stays behind in Peru, tugging at me to return.  Nos vemos!

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About Shari Salzhauer Berkowitz

Shari is a speech language pathologist and assistant professor of communication disorders at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, NY.
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