Texas State University students learn about respiratory illnesses in Guyana

By Skyler Jennings

LINDEN, GUYANA – Texas State University respiratory care students learned about respiratory illnesses and how the staff treats them in the pediatric ward Jan. 9 at Linden Hospital Complex .

Dr. Michella Ross, the general medical officer of Linden Hospital Complex, gave a presentation to the nursing staff of the pediatric ward, providing general information about respiratory illnesses . The Texas State University students, who were working at the hospital while on a study abroad program, sat in for the presentation.

Dr. Michella Ross, general medical officer of Linden Hospital Complex, giving her presentation to the pediatric nursing staff. Photo by Skyler Jennings/Global News Team.

Ross gave a UK-based statistic about pediatric patients: a preschool-aged child will have six to eight illnesses in one year. She also gave a statistic about Linden Hospital Complex: ninety percent of the children the hospital sees will have a viral infection.

“We put a lot of emphasis on [respiratory illness],” she said. “One of the main reasons is that it’s responsible for at least 50 percent of the consultations they have in pediatrics…or just in outpatient. Most of the kids, they always come with a cold, cough, something, always respiratory. So even if you have 10 kids in a day, you’ll find at least seven will be a respiratory related condition.”

Less than an hour before her presentation, a four-month-old child was discharged from the hospital after spending five days there with bronchiolitis. This lung infection is usually caused by the respiratory syncytial virus.

“As simple as bronchiolitis is, it’s one of the most life-threatening illnesses among infants,” said Ross. “[RSV] is the most common virus, and especially with bronchiolitis. Most of the kids that come with bronchiolitis, is caused by this RSV.”

Ross said the pediatric ward is usually filled in the winter, because that’s when viruses thrive in Linden.

Yarlemis Alicia Estevéz, a pediatrician consultant at Linden Hospital Complex, said the pediatric ward has sixteen or seventeen beds.

“For some periods, [there’s] plenty of patients,” said Estevéz. “For the last month, December and November, [there have been] plenty of patients.”

Yarlemis Alicia Estevéz Palomino (left), a pediatrician consultant at the Linden Hospital Complex, shows respiratory care student Stephanie Kelley (right) an X-ray of the lungs of the four-month-old patient with bronchiolitis. Photo by Skyler Jennings/Global News Team.

Xiomara Ojeda, one of the Texas State respiratory care students who attended the presentation, said she thinks this is comparable to the U.S.

“Before I went on the Guyana trip, I was doing my internship at Dell Children’s so I was dealing with all these kids,” said Ojeda. “I know that during the winter time, there’s a lot of kids…who have some sort of respiratory problem. They either have like the flu, or they have the RSV or they have stuff that does affect their breathing.”

After hearing Ross briefly discuss how the hospital staff treats patients with respiratory illnesses, Bobby Shane Rodgers, also a Texas State respiratory care student, asked about specific equipment used to treat patients with secretions in the lungs.

He said he learned that the hospital didn’t have some equipment that he would say is common in the U.S.

“I believe they used humidity, which we would use over here, and then they didn’t have any of the other equipment that we would use to help bring up the secretions,” said Rodgers. “Their emergency room was pretty poorly stocked with equipment, especially respiratory equipment.”

Ojeda said she saw a difference in the way the Linden Hospital Complex pediatric ward was laid out compared to Dell Children’s Hospital in Austin, Texas.

“They had four kids in one room, which is something that we would never see [in the US] because of HIPPA violations,” said Ojeda. “[In the US], all the kids have their own room and have their privacy. [Linden] felt more like a dorm-type situation, as opposed to a hospital. Some of them were [in] bunkbeds.”

Rodgers said it was eye opening to learn that some countries have less to work with, but he knows they are still trying to achieve the same end goal: healthy patients.

“I learned that they treat patients with a fraction of the equipment that we have, but they still generally have a good outcome,” said Rodgers. “Patients seem to get well and go home from the hospital and they do it with a lot less. [I learned that] you can improvise and [treat patients] with less equipment, but still help others.”


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