Whereas, I had expected a difference in scenery, I did not anticipate any major difference from the “customary” operating room (OR) experience, such as I previously experienced during my obstetrics and gynecological rotation in the rural North Western region(s) of the United States, the state of Wyoming. As surgical procedures tend to be universal, however something quite different stood out during my operating room observations in Haiti.
“A commitment to care,” is what comes to mind, as I recall the scenes in the OR from one surgery to another. Whether it was a tibial reduction, a hernia repair, a cataract removal, or an open reduction of a mandibular fracture, the surgeons and residents arrive with their carefully pre-packaged tools and equipment. It was not “already set up and opened” as is customary in the United States. Walking into the OR empty-handed, and having all the required instruments and equipments, would be luxury here in Haiti. Having operating room “surgical preference card” from which the operating room staff can prepare and set up the operating room according to surgeon’s preference is an uncommonly rare oddity in Hopital Universitaire Justinien (Justinien Hospital(JH)), the tertiary public hospital in Cap Haitien. The Justinien Hospital is the second largest public hospital in Haiti. In JH, it seems that it is the responsibility of the surgeon and his team of residents to ensure that all items required for the surgery are available at time of surgery.