Friday, May 25, 2018

Guatemala, Day 5

We've spent the past few days getting our students up to speed on the basics of medical electronics. So far we've mostly covered electrical safety and power supplies (and batteries). Experience has shown that most of the problems we will tend to encounter are due to either power supply problems or user error. The lectures were supplemented with a series of labs designed to underscore basic electrical skills. We started by having the students make an extension cord - we give them the cable, the plug, and the outlet receptacle, and they have to connect it all together. Its not super complicated but it does require attention to detail. We also practiced soldering: resistors onto perfboard and spliced wires. The soldering irons we got this year seem to work pretty well but they came with massive chisel tips which aren't exactly ideal for fine pitch soldering.

Wiring together our extension cords

Wrangling the soldering iron
Today we had our first hospital visit, at the "Hospital Regional de Occidente". My first impression was that the hospital was in decent shape all things considered. The building infrastructure seems solid enough and we saw lots of equipment that looked relatively new and well maintained. Our hosts took us around the hospital to see different services with equipment that might need to be repaired. Our goal with these day trips is mostly to learn what we can, although if we can fix things along the way that's nice too. Sometimes it can be helpful just to take things apart and observe how they're supposed to work.
Hospital main entrance

Waiting to be allowed on-site
Our first stop was the sterilization facility, where all manner of surgical instruments are autoclaved. They had five or six fairly large steam autoclaves. One of them had a burned out heating element and they didn't have a replacement handy, so we just learned to follow the flow of the pipes to gauge how it worked. We also inspected a water purifier that just boils water and then collects the condensate.

One of the bigger autoclaves
Next we visited the lab, where there was a fume hood which occasionally made a rattling noise. We took of the front cover and it was pretty icky back back where the fan unit runs - lots of dust and debris that "naturally" builds up over time. We cleaned it as much as we could. We tried to get the HEPA filter out to see if there was something loose close by it but couldn't work out how to get it out. We'll research that and try again next week.

Does anyone know how to change the air filter on a fume hood?
Then it was off to the oral care clinic. They have a pair of air compressors, which apparently are responsible for all the magic one sees in a dentists chair: the compressed air can be used to make suction, and it apparently pressurizes the water pik. Anyways, they were complaining about no pressure at the chairs, so we spent some time trying to debug what was going on. The compressors seem to be working ok but something might be amiss with one of the flow valves that sends the compressed air out where it's needed. We ran out of time but we'll have another whack next week.
The air compressors that weren't quite doing their job
After lunch (tacos, duh), we toured the surgery suite. They seem to be having a problem with bulbs burning out prematurely in their surgical lights. We made a note to look into it next week. I'm worried it might be poorly regulated AC service to that part of the hospital which is burning out the bulbs - if so that isn't something we can do much about. It may be time for them to call an electrician.
Surgical lights with burned out bulbs

An operating room

So that was our trip. I learned a lot because I got to see a few odds and ends I haven't seen before, which makes me happy. The students seem to be pretty sharp and are learning quickly.
Taco lunch: $3

No comments:

Post a Comment