Wow! I just had the most exciting experience here at work since hired. Stephanie from our video department coordinated a tour of the hospital for some of the marcom staff. I received the dime tour on my first day, but we got to see a lot more today.
Our small group first met with the pediatric intensive care unit managing nurse. We took a tour of the PICU and the pediatric ward. The lights were low, there was that sterile smell in the air, there were rhythmic beeps and hums from all of the monitors and machines. I got really choked up in the presence of all the tiny babies with tubes coming out of them, but in the same breath, it was inspiring to see all of the doctors and nurses working so carefully and diligently. Most of the babies that we saw were born prematurely or had complications. I don’t think there were any urgent cases in there while we were there. That set my mind at ease. While the head nurse was speaking, I kept looking down at the little human sleeping next to me and I smiled. It was a little girl. She had a tube in her mouth. I could tell she was premature, but she looked healthy to me. I could tell that she’ll be okay.
I did see one baby as we were leaving that I can’t get out of my head. This one was no bigger than my hand. I couldn’t believe how small she was. I had seen really small babies on TV, but seeing one first hand is completely different. A room full of little miracles.
We briefly toured the Pediatric Ward. I have actually walked through there many times trying to find my way to Clinic Administration. The walls and doors were all painted by child patients. They didn’t actually paint on the walls, their art was taken to Wilsonart where the paintings were silk screened and painted onto the doors and wall panels.
We were also informed that Scott & White was one of the very first acute care pediatric facilities to utilize Starbright, a computer network designed specifically for ill children. By using Starbright, children can email friends and family, chat with other pediatric patients around the world and read about their conditions and treatments. I found it really cool that Steven Spielberg and General Norman Schwarzkopf are chairmen for Starbright.
Next we were off to a meeting in the conference room at the Texas A&M Health Science Center at Scott & White. This part was really cool. We walked into a small meeting room and all sat at a long oval table. There was a television mounted on a shelf at the front of the room. On this monitor there was a lady sitting behind a desk. I thought it was a television show that someone had left on. When we all sat down, the lady looked up and said hello to all of us. We were in a medical video conference.
I wish I could remember this doctor’s name. All I can remember is that she is a doctor, a professor at the TAMU HSC and is doing extensive research on Angiogenesis. She [and her team] is working on “turning off and turning on” blood vessels to either increase or decrease blood flow to certain areas of the body. She wants to be able to generate new blood vessels (turn on) where others have failed due to clogging (diabetes, obesity, etc.). She wants to turn off blood vessels that supply nutrients to tumors and vessels that produce too much blood in the retina and cause blindness. My recollection doesn’t do justice to all of the fascinating research she described. I had a hard time blinking because I was concentrating so hard on what she was explaining. Doctors amaze me.
Next we went to MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). We were actually able to witness a lady getting an MRI of her pelvis. You wouldn’t believe how quickly the technician was working. We could see the lady laying in the ‘tube’ and the images appearing on the monitor. I have no idea what the tech was doing, but I’m sure she would be a whiz at Photoshop. Photos of the body are taken in sections depending on what information is needed. They can capture images from front to back, side to side, vertically or horizontally. Think of the sections of a Rubix cube. From what I gathered, that’s how MRI works.
MRI relies on magnetic waves and radio frequencies. These waves and frequencies pick up on hydrogen molecules in the human body and produce images. The technician can monitor the radio waves from within the booth. She turned up the volume of the scan that she was doing. I don’t know how to describe what we heard. It wasn’t pleasant. It was very loud and almost sounded like fuzz from a radio playing some rhythmic, numbing, constant overture. Again, another overwhelming experience that I wish I could describe better.
To end our tour and forerun your humble narrator’s lunch, we stopped by the Department of Anatomic Pathology. We didn’t actually get to go into any labs because, well, I guess that would pose a health hazard, but we did get to look at all of the wax models of diseased organs. There was a whole wall of fame. All of the models were molded from real human organs. Most of the models were hard to recognize, but it was still interesting to see these teaching specimens.
I had a lot of fun at work today. I learned a lot. The art of medicine never ceases to amaze me and earn more and more respect from yours truly.