By Kimberly Johnson
After a free day full of shopping on Monday, our group returned to work in Phnom Penh on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Tuesday we toured Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE and were able to shadow/work with some of the nurses in the different wards. Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE consists of a non-profit, educational hospital, which is funded by a for profit, income-based clinic and donors. This hospital not only provides much needed care for the poor, but it is also known for its education and training of Cambodian health care professionals. Sihanouk has created sustainability because of the quality care that the hospital provides and because the hospital has been able to expand by developing educated health care professionals. Sihanouk is great example of sustainable health care even with the disadvantages and struggles associated with extreme poverty. This hospital has many valuable programs, including a home visit program to rural communities. Half of our team got to take part in these home visits to a desolate community, full of individuals that had been out-casted by the city because of illnesses, like HIV and AIDS. The home visit team was able to take bags of rice to the people in this community who depend on these gifts of rice for nutrition and better health. Other than providing this community with a food source, Sihanouk also provides these individuals with a mobile health clinic twice a week and personal connections to the social worker of the hospital. These gifts are small compared to this village’s large scale poverty, but there is a presence of hope in this community for a better future.
On Wednesday, I got to be a part of another program that has been developed at Sihanouk. I was able to observe and learn from the health care professionals in the women’s health clinic on the hospital’s site. This clinic is one of three programs in Cambodia that is screening women for cervical and breast cancer. Even with limited resources, this clinic is able to effectively identify and treat these two major women’s health concerns. Unlike the U.S., Cambodia does not have the money or resources to provide women with regular pap-smears or in many cases, any at all. Sihanouk’s women's clinic has trained doctors to use vinegar to paint the cervix and identify cell differences. This is a cost effective way to identify women who have high-grade cervical cell changes that are in need of further interventions. This procedure is able to cut down on the cost of pap-smears, but is also able to identify women that are in need of a pap-smear or further interventions.
Overall, our work with Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE has been an eye opening experience. I have been able to see how this hospital has been able to adapt to poverty and reduced resources, while still providing quality, sustainable medical care.