Saturday, January 5, 2002

Day 2: January 5 -- Well Underway

This morning we met with the hospital and set up the week. The introductions were pleasant and the hospital is very happy to have us working with them again. Following the short meeting, the doctors began sorting the supplies and preparing for the surgeries, which will start Monday. The Vietnamese doctors were like kids turned loose in a candy shop. They keep holding pieces of equipment and assorted supplies and singing the praises of Mission Peace. We are a big hit this year.
Barry, Ben, Annamarie, Christophe, and I left the other doctors to their work and were off on a different errand. First stop was the internet café to get our reports off and catch up on e-mail. The servers here are really slow, so it takes forever to get the mail placed and check incoming email. The doctors will have reports following examinations tomorrow and following the upcoming surgeries.

When we finally got out of the internet café, it was back to the hospital to have a van take us to the gas company to arrange for a nitrogen tank for the operating room. This turned into quite a process. After several phone calls and considerable conversation by committee, the hospital agreed to take us. (We need nitrogen for operating the power equipment; the hospital's oxygen could damage the equipment.) We finally got our regulator to the gas company, where we found they did not have the proper connection for their tanks. They agreed to alter our regulator to accommodate their tanks and we will pick up the tank tomorrow afternoon.
Again, this took considerable conversation. All of the gas company employees gathered around to watch the goofy Americans negotiate for the nitrogen. We finally made it back to the hospital, where they were overjoyed to learn I would pay for the gas tank and nitrogen. The cost is about US$70.0. You would think we were talking about millions for all the commotion.

It seems like everywhere we go we raise a commotion. Everyone wants to know what the strange Americans are up to. It doesn’t bother me too much, but the doctors tend to lose their patience once in a while.  I get a kick out of it all.

We will be changing hotels tomorrow. The Ninh Kieu has gone downhill quite a bit since last year. The new Golf Hotel next door just opened and is beautiful! The rooms are very western, something like a Hyatt. The cost is a bit more, but the doctors agreed to pay the difference out of pocket. We negotiated to $45 per night; at home they'd be over $200. There is a beautiful pool and spa, so the doctors will have a nice place to relax after their hard days of work. (I don’t mind a little extra comfort myself.) Our rooms are on the upper floors and we will have beautiful views of the Mekong River and surrounding delta area.

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