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Mongolia: Day 1

Posted Oct 05 2009 10:03pm
So, after my millions of hours of travel and a few inflight naps and a little uncertainty, I arrived in Mongolia.  I was actually met at the gate by the lovely woman coordinating our trip and two Mongolians who would take me on my first heart stopping drives through the Mongolian streets.  Given my state of exhaustion, I begged off dinner ate the remainder of the baked chicken and settled in to get some  desparately needed shut eye.

Actually managing to sleep, I was awoken the next morning at 6 am by a gnawing emptiness in my stomach.  I then rolled over and saw some light poking in through the curtains I hadn't fully shut the night before.  I got up open the curtains and saw the beginnings of sunrise over UlannBataar (UB- to its friends).


Appreciating what looked like an amazing city, I prepared myself for the day ahead.  I had few expectations, no real knowledge of what I was heading into.  However, I trusted the people who invited me here, and so fueled by my thirst for adventure, and my headache that needed coffee, I headed down to breakfast with the team, and to figure out where the day would lead.

Team over breakfast my first day (their third) in Mongolia
We discussed our plans for the day and then divided as per our duties with the majority of us heading off to the hospital.  My first impression was the the hospital looked like a Russian jail.  It was a big industrial building in the middle of what appeared to be a construction site with random gates and random roads and cars parked everywhere and kids running through the parking lot.  That there was order in this chaos was amazing.  There standing at the doors was one of our translating physicians, who guided us through this maze and brought myself and the ebullient neonatal nurse, Monica, who is my partner in crime this week to the NICU. Our lead physician came with us as he had never been to the Mongolian NICU before and wanted to see what was the deal.  (He probably wanted to check on me too.)
Anyway, we met our lovely translator, who is a neonatal resident with amazing English skills.  We toured the NICU talked about several babies, met some of the families.  We were able to learn what their needs were so we could tailor our teaching for the rest of the week.  We rounded on a couple of the babies with them. 
 The woman on my right is the translator, on my left is the head neonatologist and then the other residents. In the back is Dr. Ross.

The baby they wanted help with the first day.
A preterm baby in the isolette in a room with her mom.
Our day continued on with lunch with the head of the hospital and the secretary to the minister of health where we discussed on going educational needs of the Mongolian physicians and then we did two hours of our formal lectures. 
After that I was about to die from jet lag, so Monica and I and Kate, the adolescent fellow, went for a walk to a Buddhist monastery.  Where I saw the third tallest gold Buddha in the world.
Waking out of my jet lag stupor after my brief emersion in the culture, we headed off on a walk with a bunch of the Mongolian expats.  We were put on a bus and taken out into the countryside outside of Mongolia to climb the hill and watch the sunset over the river and the planes. A 45 minute walk with some fascinating people.  There was the woman whose kids were finally grown up so she had joined the peace corp and just moved to Mongolia with her husband to be the Peace Corps chief medical officer, a couple of teachers at the Mongolian interntational school, embassy workers, and the guy who introduced himself by saying he driven from Detroit to UB (going with his car by boat from New York to London- he admitted).  Such amazing people, fascinating conversations, lovely views- what an end to my first Mongolian day.
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