|Rounds at King Chulalongkorn Hospital|
By: Ben Gray
In July of my chief year, I traveled to Bangkok, Thailand for my international elective. Having taken off at 10AM on Saturday morning, I finally landed around midnight Sunday night losing roughly half a day to the time change. I was greeted by the staggering heat and humidity of the monsoon season and would only find out later that these temperatures paled in comparison to their “hot season” in April. When I told the surgeons at the hospital that I walked to work on the first day, they asked if I brought two shirts. I quickly learned the vast size of the city. Roughly 14 million people live within the metropolitan area of Bangkok. Of these, 98% are Buddhist in religion.
I spent my two weeks working at the King Chulalongkorn Hospital, which is a public hospital that is run by the Thai Red Cross. I was fortunate enough to be hosted by Dr. Noppachart Limpaphayom who completed his pediatric orthopedic fellowship at St. Louis Children’s Hospital with Drs. Dobbs, Schoenecker, Gordon, and Luhmann. His practice in Thailand is a combination of pediatrics as well as general orthopedics. While the Department of Orthopedics at the hospital is robust with several departments, he has inherited all of his previous mentors patients on top of his new patients. Thus, he will perform revision joint arthroplasties and adult spinal fusions in addition to his treatment of pediatric foot conditions.
|Administration building, King Chulalongkorn |
Hospital, Bangkok, Thiland
In Thailand, the feet are considered very lowly and you would never touch anyone else with your feet. Your toes thus are never supposed to point at the Buddha as it would be disrespectful. I found out that this is one reason that their hand surgeons do not perform pollicization of the toes for children with congenital hand deformities. Families would not want their children to have toes on their hands as it would be disrespectful. They would however do transfers of the proximal phalanxes from the toes to the hand for lengthening purposes. Somehow this was considered different. In the operating room, infection control was very important. If you entered a room with an infected wound or an open fracture, you were required to change your scrubs, hat, mask…and sandals before entering another operating room. It was striking to me that shoes were not allowed. When you entered the locker room, there was a wall of sandals that you would change in to. I quickly learned that there were separate sandals for the bathroom as well.