Phan Rang: Day 3

IMG_1841Days start at the hospital here, just like back home when there are newborns or patients on the pediatric ward. First, we round on yesterday’s patients and send some of them home, then we check the patients scheduled for surgery today to make sure no one has fever, cough or cold symptoms that would increase the risk of anesthesia and cause their surgery to be cancelled.

The first patients come down to the operating room to change. We start their IVs and they go in for their procedures. Each surgeon has at least five patients scheduled a day. The babies and toddlers go first since older children can fast longer. After surgery, patients come to the PACU to recover. Once they are awake, they can go up to the floor.

I am writing this in a lull: the OR nurses came to say that there was no running water for them to sterilize the instruments. Cases are on hold.


Each hospital room has six beds. We have two rooms for our patients. Shoes are left outside the room. Parents stay with small children; family members wait in the open air corridors where they sleep and take their meals they have brought to the hospital. There is a posted list of hospital fees and a suggestion box. One night post-operative care is 120,000 dong, which works out to US $6.


suggestion box

The water is flowing again. Back to work.

About Lisa M. Asta, MD

Lisa M. Asta, M.D. is board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, for which she is also a Media Representative (she has been interviewed for “Kids Health” on Health Radio, and quoted in Parenting Magazine, USA Today, and the New York Times, among other publications). She is a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco and past pediatric chair at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. She graduated from Temple University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Asta is also a writer whose fiction has appeared in Inkwell, Philadelphia Stories, Schuylkill, and Zeniada. Her essays have appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Hippocrates, the San Jose Mercury News, and The New Physician Magazine. She is an occasional contributor to KQED public radio’s Perspectives series, and has written articles for Bay Area Parent, Valley Parent, Parents’ Press, and Parents Express, as well as online at,, and She wrote a chapter in The Field Guide to the Normal Newborn, ed. Gary Emmet, M.D. currently has two how-to videos for parents in production which feature Dr. Asta. For more on Dr. Asta’s writing, visit
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