Today we started off with a tour of the Hospital University of Austral. This was a really special experience because our tour guides were two nurses that actually worked on the units we were touring. This allowed us to ask unique questions as well as observe a unique perspective on how the hospital units operate on a daily basis and the culture of the employees. This allowed us to make connections between the daily operations of Austral and their mission to strive for the “pursuit of truth and a culture of life.”
To me, a pursuit of truth means having a goal of honesty and transparency. The Austral staff was very good at embodying this value, as they were very open with the answers to their questions and they did not hide any aspects of the hospital that I know of. They told us honest answers, even if they did not paint the hospital in the best light. For example, they explained how Austral has a nursing shortage and it can sometimes lead to a reduction in patient care quality, how sometimes vaccines that are domestic from Argentina are not as trustworthy, and that the sometimes do not have enough room for all of their patients. They also portray truth in their values of Christianity. Most rooms within the hospital have Christian symbolism such as crosses or depictions of the Virgin Mary. This representation shows that the hospital and its employees are committed to being people that hold admiral values and promote those values to others.
A culture of life is when lives of all types and paths are valued. I think one can argue that Austral fulfills this no matter what because they are a hospital with a goal to save lives, but I think it also goes deeper. Watching the employees on the different units, you could tell that they were very positive, proud of what they do, and happy to be there. This is important because when there is a positive environment, it improves the lives of everyone beyond the capabilities of medicine. The most outstanding example of this was the security guard at the emergency room. He greeted all patients and employee with a massive smile, was extremely helpful, and his dancing and singing brought joy to everyone around him. Having employees like these who treat patients as people and work to improve their lives beyond treating physical ailments truly embodies a culture of life.
The highlight of my day was finally getting to meet other students at Austral, specifically a nursing student named Monica. She was extremely friendly and we were able to hold conversations about healthcare. I think I learned more about healthcare and Argentina overall from her first-hand accounts than any lecturer so far. Experiences like these are what makes this trip so valuable and I hope to keep in touch with her. Now it is time for some delicious dinner and shopping!