Day 07 – Visiting the triplets again

The outpatient department in Annotto Bay – the patients wait outside

I received some bit of good news today when I passed by the pediatric ward in Annotto Bay today. Baby B of the triplets has been able to come off of CPAP and he has been making good breathing efforts. This is the baby who had omphalitis so having one less thing to worry about makes his care a bit easier. I was able to uncover him completely to do a full exam. His omphalitis appears to be under good control. His breathing is unlabored. His right foot is a little poorly perfused and the little toe is looking a little dark. I asked the nurses to place some warm packs on the left leg to improve perfusion. The nurse tried to correct me and asked if I meant the right leg. A great opportunity for a teaching moment!

They are going to try Baby A off of CPAP today. They tried last night but he wasn’t quite ready. Dr. Ramos has to make an educated guess as to when a baby is ready to be taken off of CPAP. The babies have never had an X-Ray, because the machine has been broken (since February). We cannot monitor blood gases – they don’t have that capability at all.

Triplet C, our sickest one (with possible sepsis), was a little swollen. Dr. Fisher, the senior resident, said that he had low protein levels (hypoalbuminemia) and they had given him some intravenous albumin. This is only going to get exacerbated by the limited nutrition. But at this stage I’m also worried about the kidneys. We have no way of closely monitoring the urine output. On my way back from the clinic yesterday I stopped by two “supermarkets” but neither had a scale. Bobbi – the scales you are bringing will be a lifesaver! Literally. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! (one from each of the triplets).

Our makeshift NICU has a new addition. A 29 weeker was born yesterday and he weighs about 3 pounds. He’s doing well. He is being kept in the nonfunctioning incubator, but at least it is a barrier from infections. He is breathing on his own and he may get fed today.

In the next bed I saw a mother cradling a baby who looked limp. I found out that this is an 8-month old baby with a severely malformed heart – DORV with TGA and VSD/ASD (for my PICU folks). This is a condition that typically requires intensive monitoring and very VERY close observation. He would typically require the collective efforts of a cardiologist, cardiac surgeon, intensivist, and nurses adept at caring for children with congenital heart disease. Yet, he’s had no X-Rays.No lactate levels. And he wasn’t hooked up to a heart monitor. Dr. Ramos explained that all the available heart monitors are being used. It is a tough decision, but I can’t help but agree with the premise. Limited resources must be distributed where they can have the greatest impact. This child’s condition is very complicated. He will likely require several cardiac surgeries or even a heart transplant. I spoke with the mother and she barely had enough money to get the first few echocardiograms. She said there is a traveling cardiac surgery team that will be in Jamaica in November. She hopes they will “fix his heart”. Dr. Ramos and I talked about how we can prepare him for surgery. We will try to get him to gain more weight. We will monitor his kidneys. We will monitor for heart failure. Dr. Ramos will try to get him transferred to the capital but he’s not sure if they will accept him.

Tomorrow is my last day. I will be going to Port Antonio. I’m looking forward to meeting Dr. Fazul again and seeing how he has been doing with our little kid with a severe burn.

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