Visiting India was a great experience. Not only did I get to contribute to a great project, but I met some great people and saw some great sights. I had planned to make multiple blog updates throughout my stay, but I did not have Internet access. So I will try to condense everything to a single entry. I’ll just start from the beginning.
As usual, whenever I fly something goes wrong. In this case the airline, Northwest, was late leaving Dallas. I had connections in Detroit and Amsterdam and there was not much time in between them, so being late in Dallas nearly ruined my flight plans. Fortunately, after a long run through the Detroit airport I was able to make the flight to Amsterdam. My luggage was not so fortunate. When I landed in Mumbai I learned that my luggage was still in Detroit. I was assured that I would have my luggage by the next day. I have learned that next day service, when it comes to luggage, means 3 day service because I did not get my bag until after that time.
The originally proposed project involved studying the administration of the hospital along with the types of diseases being treated. This project fell through because there was not a lot of data to analyze, but while chatting with a few of the doctors and volunteers I discovered that I could help out by developing an electronic medical records system. Currently, when patients visit the hospital they are either bring any previous paper records with them or they tell the doctor about any past medical history. They receive a form for the current visit and are expected to keep track of their own medical history. The hospital maintains no records. There were computers and existing software, but the software was billing software (for a free medical camp) and was only used to keep track of the number of patients treated each day.
Using Microsoft Access, I created a database and user interface that kept track of patients’ contact information, past diagnoses, prescriptions, and surgical history in about 2 days. Over the course of the next 2 days we ran a live test of the system to see if it is viable to input the data without adding more waiting time for the patients, and it turns out it was. The next step is to complete a report with my findings to present to the hospital.
There were a couple of days of ceremonies and parties to kick off the medical camp. During this time the American Consul General, Michael Owen, visited the hospital along with his wife. It was pretty cool to meet them; we chatted and danced at one of the dinners. They are nice folks and invited the volunteers to visit them at the consulate in Mumbai. Unfortunately, the consulate was not open when I was in Mumbai so I could not take them up on that offer.
I met some other great people as well. I roomed with a doctor from Canada and a medical student from Chicago; these were the guys who came up with the idea for the electronic medical records system. I also met two young ladies from Canada, Jennifer and Samara. I had no travel plans for the week I had free, so I ended up touring northern India with them, which is why they will appear in many of the photos linked below.
We visited Jaisalmer and Jaipur before I returned home. They are both still there for a few more days. In Jaisalmer we stayed in a 500 year old haveli located inside Jaisalmer Fort. We also went on a camel safari and camped out one night in the desert, which is surprisingly very cold (If you look in the pictures, I have on long sleeves.). In Jaipur we visited the Amber Fort, Jaigarh Fort, a monkey temple, Nahargarh Fort, all great locations of which I have many pictures.
There is so much more to tell about, so I am sure I missing out on some random story or anecdote. Like this one: Samara and I were walking down the hill from the Sun (Monkey) Temple when I saw two monkeys…procreating. I stopped to take a picture (because I’m weird like that) but papa monkey was not amused and began to chase us. Dilip, a young boy who lived nearby, used a big stick to protect us from the horny monkey and actually escorted us down the hill. It was pretty funny to see this kid. Apparently the monkeys knew him well because as soon as they saw him and his stick they quickly dispersed, and we had no trouble.
Alright, that’s my story on India. If you have any questions, leave a message in the comments and I’ll answer as soon as possible.
Camel Safari Slide Show