Post Holiday Review
Fuda Hospital Tour
Now that Louie and I are back from China, reunited with our family, with Christmas behind us, I have a chance to continue with my reflections on Fuda Hospital. I want to reconstruct the order it occurred and what my impressions were. After things started happening quickly, especially after Dr. Littrup arrived, I didn’t have time to stay caught up with my blog entries as they were happening in real time. Hopefully my memory and notes should assist me. Dr. Littrup (“Dr. Peter”) just sent a hundred and fifty seven of his excellent photos so that will facilitate.
The morning after our outing into Guangzhou with Segundo and Mr. Chang, we were promised a visit with Dr. Xu, Fuda’s acting President. But it turned out he was busy with a visitor so we were offered a tour of the new Fuda Cancer Hospital, where we were staying. Our tour guide was Tracy, a Chinese English interrupter and member of the planning department. It turns out this was Tracy’s first such opportunity to interpret with a westerner, and she was a little nervous, but Louie and I never would have known it. When we asked her Chinese name we were told it sounds like “Tracy” in English so that’s what we called her. She had graduated from her university only a year ago. This was her first post studies job. Over the next few days Tracy was the one to help coordinate our activities and transportation and we grew very fond of her gentle, quiet intelligence, grace and charm.
Accompanying Tracy on our tour was Peng Ximei, an ex-patient who lives at the hospital and who acts as a wellness ambassador, encouraging patients by sharing her incredible story of being healed through Dr. Xu’s efforts. Her story is featured in the book, ”Nothing but the Truth”, written by Dr. Xu and given to all new patients. Ximei is one of dozen’s of patients stories in this book. Her story is very dramatic as she was literary taken from a homeless state, off the streets, and cured from ovarian cancer, her watermelon-sized tumor successfully removed by Dr.Xu’s surgical team and her costs paid for by the donations of hospital personal and fellow patient. No one being treated at Fuda could have it worse and being able to be encouraged by Ximei must surely be a tremendous uplifting experience for any new patient. More stories and healing philosophies in Dr Xu’s book set a tone that Fuda is a place where cancer can be successfully treated.
Louie and my room at Fuda was a typical patient room with two hospital beds, a large window letting in plenty of natural daylight, and a marble lined, modern bathroom. We were in a wing that housed traditional Chinese medicine and our tour began by allowing us to view treatments of acupuncture and massage going on. The patients having treatments where both nurses. Staff, family members as well as Fuda patients are all encouraged to use the traditional Chinese medicine treatments to supplement their allopathic cures. One nurse had stained her shoulder (massage) and another had sprained her ankle (acupuncture).
As we walked down a light-filled stairway I mentioned how beautiful and light the hospital seemed to be. The surfaces were light and reflective, the light mostly brought in by large windows at either end of the hallways and light-filled open stairways at the intersections of corridors. Besides the clean, shiny décor, there was personality aplenty. Each ward had a large bulletin board that held photos a healed and successfully treated patients, along with their thank notes. Across from each nurses’ station photos of the nursing staff was aesthetically arranged along with names and training information. What impressed me the most were the information bulletin boards that held information about treatment modalities-how treatments worked to cure cancer. An English speaking nurse explained that these were changed weekly, after the weekly patient/nurse group meeting where a new subject is brought up to be discussed and educated about. I was beginning to get the idea that a philosophy at Fuda is that the more a patient understands about what is going on with their healing, the better they heal. They were certainly being encouraged to find out as much as they can to empower them that what they are doing works. But it wasn’t just scientific, medical information adoring the halls.
My favorite part of the Fuda interior landscape were the inspirational sayings found everywhere that gave philosophical inspirations. My favorite was the “Philosophy of Life” poster outside Fe’s room. It read:
-“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also the overcoming of it. Although the world is full of suffering, it is also the overcoming of it”.
-“Rejoicing in hope/patient in tribulation”
-“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing…the freedom to choose his attitude in any given set of circumstances.”
-“A strong man struggles with fate”
-“A light heart lives long”
There were three types of patient rooms available; a suite with a separate bedroom and bathroom for family members, a two bed room, designed for the patient and able to house a family member, and a four bed ward. Each had a different price tag running from the suites for around $420 to the four-ward bed for around $40 a day. I was told patients had complained about the high-end price so a committee had formed and met and it was decided to give a price decrease the following year. (!!!). At the end of the ward was a gym for anyone, patient, family member or staff, who wanted to use it. In the middle of the ward was a room containing a washer and dryer, computer and desk, chairs and a television. I was told of a larger laundry unit as well as a family kitchen for those who wanted to cook for themselves, one floor up.
Finally we got to the end of the ward where I got my biggest surprise as the how this hospital was different. First there was a lounge where comfortable seating was laid out in front of a desk where an interpreter was stationed. This was a wing dedicated to Islamic patients and I was told from 8am to midnight an interpreter was available to who ever needed their services. Across from this station was a double office offering the services of a nutrition doctor whose’ job was to educate patients and family members about food’s important role in healing and health, and to conduct educational meetings about nutrition for all on the ward. Next to his office was a Dr. of Psychology whose job was to listen to and help any patient, family member or staff person who may have an issue. When I asked for an example, I was told about a patient who developed paranoia when hearing a knock on the door, nervous about what the treatment might be that followed. He was taught how to train his expectation pathways to anticipate a positive experience. A nurse had recently come by to work through on the job fatigue. A family member was taught how to effectively give support. Wow! I can’t ever recall such easily available services when going through treatment, although I did have a patient advocate nurse I often worked with.
My final observation came from my nose. Nothing at Fuda smelled hospital-like. When I saw a cleaning person I asked what was being used. As best as they could describe it, I was told that it was all natural ingredients and wouldn’t harm a patient but was an effective cleaner.
By now it was lunchtime. I’ll finish my afternoon tour tomorrow.