The medical ward of the hospital here is in a cement building with a metal roof, and a few windows. It is basically two big rooms. There are signs identifying the room designated for men and the other for women, but when all of the beds are full and the numbers don't match up, it gets somewhat mixed. There are 14 beds in the ward, as well as some IV poles. That's about it. Families bring with them everything that they will need. Medical supplies are kept in the office. The floor is cement, and it amazes me how fast it gets dirty again after being swept.
One day not too long ago I was at work, and bed 10 was occupied by a particular patient who was pretty sick. He had a tentative diagnosis of cerebral malaria. He was on all of the proper medications, most notably quinine. But sometimes the proper medications aren't enough.
The family seemed to all be there; they must have known how sick the patient was. A blood transfusion was running, and everything seemed to be in order. But everything wasn't in order. And this patient in bed 10 died. It went a little differently than in the US. No one was crying, and one of the family members came and found a nurse, who went and used a stethoscope to determine whether there was any cardiac activity. There wasn't.
The patient's face was covered with his blanket, and the family began to collect all of their things. Then one by one, the women walked by the open door, carrying the things they had brought, and wailing.
It seemed really harsh. There was no chaplain or social worker standing by to see if any of the family members needed to talk through anything; not even an explanation by the nurse of what had happened. No one paused to ask if they had any questions or if they needed anything. It was just the cold, hard reality of death. There's a lot of death here.
Some of the deaths can be explained easily. They waited too long to come to the hospital, we don't have the medication that they need, we don't have the resources for the surgery that they need. The list goes on. But not every death can be explained.
With or without an explanation, I don't like it when patients die. I'm sure glad it's not always going to be this way.
"Then the saying will come true: Death swallowed by triumphant life! Who got the last word, oh death? Oh death, who is afraid of you now?" 1 Corinthians 15:54, 55