Slice of Life Story: The American Hospital: A Whole New World for a HCN Student

Slice of LifeA Daniel Smith Story

I’d like for you to picture in your mind a typical hospital scene. Waiting rooms, IV’s, doctors with stethoscopes around their necks, nurses bustling to and from rooms, the crisp scent of sterilization, patients reclining in beds… These are all common features of a hospital- American hospitals that is. HCN student, Daniel Smith, will soon be experiencing the wonder that is American hospitals, an experience that will be drastically different from anything he’s encountered before.

Haitian Hospital

Haitian Hospital

Daniel will be traveling to Thomas Jefferson hospital in Philadelphia this July to have a tumor on his jaw removed. Though he has been to hospitals in Haiti, his visit to this prestigious hospital will no doubt inspire awe, maybe even shock. When talking to HCN’s Executive Director, Kristen Hertzog, about his stay in the American hospital, Daniel asked the simple question, “Who will be taking care of me”? He was concerned because he won’t have his family there to care for him. You see, patients in Haitian hospitals are usually cared for by family members. The concept that non-family members, primarily nurses, would be looking after him was foreign to this young man… and understandably so considering the culture he has grown up in!

What also may come as a shock to Daniel is the fact that he may get a hospital room to himself (or share with one other patient). Patients in Haitian hospitals are generally placed in one large room with dozens of other patients.

When I asked Daniel about his reaction to American hospitals he stated that “I don’t know a lot of the American Hospitals, but according to what I hear from others, the American hospitals give more attention to save the human life and treat them well…which is a great thing!”

Learning about these differences between Haitian and American hospitals has helped me to understand how much we as Americans take for granted- even if it’s something as simple as a nurse taking our blood pressure or enjoying the privacy of our own room.

I, for one, am excited to hear what Daniel’s reaction will be to American culture and specifically how American hospitals compare to those in Haiti. If you would like to send Daniel words of encouragement or tell your own hospital story, feel free to type in your comments below!



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