Sterilization and Adjustments: My First Day at Dornbecher

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My first day, was a day of firsts. The identical hallways that line the interior of the hospital made it feel as though I was within a labrinth. The classroom for the Hospital School Program at Dornbecher is in the acute care section of the hospital and is a single classroom. Patients mainly come to the acute care floor recovering from appendicitis, broken bones, eating disorders, MRSA, Cystic Fibrosis and Crones. Listed are the most common illnesses that enter the school at Dornbecher on the 9th floor, although the list varies and includes many others I haven't become familiar with yet.

As this was a day of firsts, it was also one of surprises. When I walked in today I got a tour of the floor and then entered the classroom. To my surprise supplies were stacked on the table as well as cleaning sprays and wipes. The following sentence from my mentor stated "We clean all the supplies after they are used to avoid transmission between patients." This made sense, although I would have never thought about this outside of this environment. Cleaning supplies doesn't just mean cleaning the tables, but all the writing implements. There are boxes of crayons and we have to empty the box and clean each crayon by hand to ensure that no pathenogenic material remains in the supplies that are used amongst all the patients.

To continue with the sterilization tactics of the Hospital School Program, one patient with MRSA, an antibiotic resistent bacteria, drew a picture, and the paper remained in isolation for days until all potential bacteria remaining on the page would have died.

Another interesting piece of information I heard today is that children born with VSD or other cardiac illnesses that involve invasive surgery, placing the patient's circulatory into a machine during the surgery, and cooling the body. This surgery leads to learning disabilities in the future, maybe because of the heart malfunctions in the first few years of life the brain doesn't receive enough oxygenated blood, although I'm unsure and I hope this comes up again during my time at Dornbecher to further see how the research is playing out.

While students in the hospital are trying to persevere through their illness, the transition back to school poses another challenge. For example with a child who is suffering from Crones, feces are collected in a bag and the individual doesn't have any control of their bowel movements, making it difficult and embarrassing for Crones patients to enter the normal school system again because of frequent bathroom trips. The Hospital School Program tries to ease the educational transitions to and from the hospital, while retaining the values of the patient and their families.

My tasks today make me the queen of the copy machine. Many students come into the hospital and stay for extended periods of time making it difficult to complete high school. Students receive schooling materials from the school in Dornbecher, like practice GED tests, so that patients can continue to achieve their requirements while in the hospital.

Children enter the classroom in an array of manners. Some seem lively and upbeat, as others need help becoming more optimistic. The severity of the illnesses is shocking, as well as the team approach to treating these children. The children have a group of doctors helping with treatment, and the teachers also help the students throughout their stay and beyond communicating with the children's school and parents about the educational progress the patients is making. Throughout my time at Dornbecher hopefully I will be able to interact with more patients either as a tutor, teaching assistant or patient companion. The patient load at Dornbecher fluctuates and the Cystic Fibrosis clinic is open Monday and Tuesday’s meaning tomorrow may bring more patients to the classroom.

Another topic I will learn more about is how the budget cuts in education are going to affect the MESD program, and how the school will continue in the future. At the moment the Hospital School isn't associated with Portland Public Schools although in the future the hands may change making the future ambivalent.