Montego Bay – Day 1

Day one of our Alternative Winter Break experience in Jamaica was spent at Montego Bay’s Cornwall Regional Hospital.  Cornwall is a 10-story, 400-bed public hospital operated by the Jamaican government.  It provides comprehensive medical services free of charge to the residents of western Jamaica.  Our job today mainly was to observe and reflect.

I was overwhelmed by the huge number of patients this hospital serves.  People were waiting outside the main entrance to get in, people were everywhere inside the hospital waiting to be seen in clinic, and most beds in every ward were full.  In the Accident and Emergency department, a sea of patients waited their turns to be triaged and seen by a doctor.

Watching the providers work, however, was inspiring.  According to one, resources are scarce and funding is limited, but providers work together for the good of the patient.  Often, nurses work overtime or shift their schedules to accomodate their patients.  As one provider said, he could make 60x the money in the United States that he makes in Jamaica, but his passion is to serve his patients in Jamaica and to advocate for better resources for their healthcare.  His statement was a reminder of why I chose nursing in the first place – not for the money, but to serve my patients however I’m needed.  A good lesson for the first day of Alternative Winter Break…

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