20 April 2009
Today I started my first day on a small ward called Siyaphila (pronounced: see-ah-pee-lah, meaning “We are well”). One room with 10 beds, this ward operates as a step down unit for HIV patients. On one of my first days, when the matron had asked what we were interested in doing, I had requested to be placed in a hospice environment for a little bit of my time. McCord used to have a hospice center for AIDS patients, but because of funding that project was discontinued. This small ward was the closest they had to offer for hospice care. Basically Siyaphila functions as a mid-range care facility. Most of the patients here have been acutely ill and were somewhere else in the hospital, but upon improvement were moved here until they are well enough to go home.
Only 50% of the beds were being used. Staff was minimal. Students were abundant. Zulu was the predominent language. Perhaps for these reasons I found myself lacking things to do. Today was spent trying to talk with patients, learning as much Zulu as I could, and trying to not get in the way. Due to the limited patients and my limited abilities as a visiting student from the USA I felt unneeded and a bit bored. Perhaps tomorrow will be better. On the bright side, I am learning more Zulu and am able to talk with my patients more and more!