Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Winter 2019 - 22

Beyond Brown, Berks County, & Kenya: Experiences of a Pre-Med Student
continued from page 21

have subtle bruises and cuts all over her body. Her story of the
incident when her "husband" was in the room was that she had
tripped and severely hurt herself. Sensing something clearly was
not right, Dr. Otsyeno asked the man to leave, to which there
was significant resistance and even slight violence. Once the man
finally left and the woman was asked again what really happened,
she hesitated and then revealed in near tears that he had beat her.
In such unforgettable ways, I realized the value of patient history
and really being cognizant of social context regardless of where you
practice medicine. I think it's always extremely empowering for
me personally to see physicians who truly treat patients as human
beings rather than just cases.
Dr. Pathanjali Sharma and Sai Kurapati outside the OR at Penn State
Hershey St. Joseph's Medical Center post-angioplasty procedure.
cultural differences that existed between the overall American and
Kenyan way of lifestyles, I was next most shocked by how much this
aspect of living affected their system of healthcare.
Due to the unfortunately strong patriarchal influences on daily
Kenyan life, I learned that it was so much more important to not
only truly understand the patient's medical history, but also their
personal history. It was eye-opening when Dr. Otsyeno evinced how
many times patients, especially women, would change their stories
of what caused their injury based on who else was present in the
room. In fact, I witnessed this a few times myself while shadowing
him at the national public hospital.
In one instance, a fairly young couple came to see Dr. Otsyeno,
with the woman complaining of excruciating thigh pain-later
determined to be a fracture in the femur. She appeared to also

Aside from those eye-opening experiences, I think the most
exciting part of working with Dr. Otsyeno was getting to shadow
him on three different levels of access to healthcare. From a small
missionary hospital, to the doctor's own private practice, to the
nation's largest public hospital, one principle I learned applied
to all: when someone is sick, rich or poor doesn't matter. Illness
debilitates/afflicts everyone in the same manner regardless of
their affluence. Whether you are the CEO of your million-dollar
company in America or a low-class matatu (bus) driver in Kenya,
you desire and deserve the highest quality of care as a basic human
right. But whether you have access to it becomes the determining
factor, as I saw through my own eyes on both sides of the world. It
was also incredible to see that, regardless of how far people have to
travel to find healthcare facilities, the sick will come when the need
arises. Dr. Otsyeno recounted instances of people transporting
dying patients in wheel barrows on more than a few occasions, and
travelling miles in the scorching sun searching for medical services
they could access, let alone afford.
The lack of adherence to strict HIPPAA and general surgical
sanitary policies-though not unexpected since I had observed this
in Indian medical practices when I shadowed there-still managed
to surprise me. For example, before going into the OR with Dr.
Otsyeno to witness one very intense orthopedic knee surgery, I
was not asked to sign any confidentiality paperwork, no patient
consent was taken, and I was even allowed to stand right beside the
patient's bed despite not undergoing proper sterilization. Though
this occurred every time I stepped into a new clinical setting in
Kenya, it was just as shocking each time to see that standards of
hygiene and patient privacy were so different from America and
were not more universally regulated.
Despite the obvious differences in lifestyles between Dr.
Sharma in America and Dr. Otsyeno in Kenya, their genuine
passion for providing patients with the highest quality of

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Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Winter 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Winter 2019

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