I Don’t Wanna! On Limited Resources

I try to be thankful that I am being trained in one of the better public hospitals. One of the public hospitals with greater than average resources. Lots of skilled professors. A regular supply of electricity and water. As South African public hospitals go, we are privileged.

And so I sometimes forget that it is not enough. I become complacent, and I almost think that this is good enough, that our patients should be grateful.

But it’s not.

It’s not okay that we cannot actively resuscitate every single patient, because we do not have enough ICU beds. It’s not okay that before intubating someone, we have to ask ourselves if this patient will recover, or if they will simply keep life-saving measures from other patients before finally giving up.

I don’t want to have to ration oxygen. Weeks ago, Medical Emergency was so full that two asthma patients had to share one oxygen port. Twenty minutes for one, then twenty minutes for the other.

It’s not okay, and I resent having to make such decisions. I resent our government, but I know that I probably don’t understand their position. Maybe (possibly, probably) they really are trying their darndest to supply the equipment we need. Maybe it’s just not enough.

I don’t wanna. But somebody’s gotta.


  1. innocent90 says:

    This is just amazing dear Doc 🙂 This was areally informative post

    1. Thanks for stopping by – I’m glad you liked it 🙂

  2. Have you ever thought about doing any of your training in another country? Not that what you’re doing where you are isn’t great, just curious!

    1. When I was in high school my biggest dream was actually to do pre-med at Amherst and then medicine at one of the IV-league schools (my mentor studied there decades ago, and I had big dreams). Unfortunately I could never even apply as at the time of applying for SATs the exchange rate shot up such that I couldn’t even afford the SAT application fees, nevermind college application fees in dollars. So financially it was pretty much impossible and there weren’t any scholarships looking for my specific profile.
      I’ve thought about the possibility a lot over the years. With the instability in our country there are a lot of people encouraging me to complete my degree abroad, although again whether that would be financially do-able or if I would even be allowed the transfer is questionable. I would probably have to study for a year or two longer than anticipated.
      So, I’m in two minds… I do love my country, and ideally I would practise here one day. But the working conditions get extremely difficult and I’m not really in a position to change anything, I can simply do my bit. I don’t know if that makes complete sense 🙂

  3. Ok- able to comment! I love reading this. I work in a hospital in the US and ours is very fortunate to have funding for everything. Reading this makes me want to do something to help! Do you guys have a place where people can donate?

    1. Thank you, and thanks for your concern. Most of the big hospitals (like mine) are too firmly ensconced in the grips of the national DoH, and all funding has to go through them (which has been part of the problem, as our national government is notoriously fraudulent). There are, however, projects that one can fund. For example, we have the Tygerbear project, for traumatised children, and there are orgnaisations that come to our wards at times to give the patients a nice meal, or a haircut, or so on. Smaller rural clinics can also always use a donor-organisation or two. And then we have other volunteer organisations that try to do their bit by alleviating some of the burden on the public healthcare system – I’ll have to research some names though.
      Nationally we get quite a bit of funding from, for example, USAID. The problem in the past was that the money would simply “disappear”. So donors should ideally always have a contract signed and so on.
      It’s very kind of you to be so touched by this – if ever you travel to South Africa let me know and I’ll show you around 🙂

  4. Thanks for linking up with medical mondays. I really enjoyed this post. We take so much for granted in the US. So many of our problems are from having too much, rarely too little.

    1. Thanks for popping by (and for hosting medical Mondays) – glad you enjoyed it. I went to a children’s hospital in the States once and was absolutely flabbergasted by all the wonderful equipment. Not that that is a bad thing at all, though.

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