REVIEW BY VOLUNTEER DOCTORS KALI AND MATTHEW ON THEIR TIME AT DELEK
We came to Delek to find a peaceful way. My partner Matthew and I are both family physicians with special interest in global medicine, splitting our time between working at our home public hospital in Martinez, CA and then internationally. The bulk of our recent global work has taken place in East Africa, yet when our most recent project in South Sudan closed last spring, we were in search of a new hospital to volunteer with this fall. Our hospitals in South Sudan and California both carry the battle scars of attempting to serve a neglected patient population without adequate resources or leadership; scars such as burnout, cynicism, and resentment. Our dream was to find a place where we could fully utilize our board clinical training to serve a local patient population, all while also learning from a staff model that purposefully incorporated values such as compassion, service, and humility into the fabric of its hospital. We found our ideal at Delek.
Delek’s commitment to compassion and excellence emanates from even the smallest details of the hospital. Time and again, Matthew and I would pause in awe and appreciation of yet another simple yet graceful solution that the staff created to serve the patient’s needs, be they medical, social, or spiritual: the house keepers carefully scraping the labels off of used bottles for sputum; the head matron bringing in colouring markers for a young boy with severe depression from the Tibetan Children’s Village; the nurses collecting donations from every member of the staff so that we might send one of our inpatients to Chandigarh for surgery for his collapsed lung. Everyone donated. Everyone. Through examples like this, my time at Delek taught me something about trusting compassion as perhaps being the secret to self-sustainability in this ever-rewarding profession. This lesson stays with me now, every day, and it is keeping me strong.
Now home again, a piece of my heart remains in Delek, nestled beneath the peaks of the Himalayas. Memories of our time there float gently through my consciousness like drifting autumn leaves, always leaving me with warmth and a smile. It may be a vision of the housekeepers who tirelessly scrub every corner of every room all day long, hanging out of the third floor windows in their bare feet to reach the last inch of faded glass, grinning when they see me to offer a warm “Namaste”; it may be the sound of patient’s voices greeting me with gentle Tashi Delek as we walk into the Doctor’s Room for the morning rounds; sometimes it’s the smell of incense wafting down from one of the private rooms. With each memory, another wave of gratitude gently washes over me, gratitude for our brief time shared with the community of Delek Hospital, a place whose strength is felt everyday simply by nature of how easy it feels to do the right thing for others.