The most exhilarating experience of our trip was the morning spent in the operating room suite of Yangon Eye Hospital. On the first day we had already seen the pre-op waiting area, with its screenless windows open to the courtyard, and sounds of birds filling the air. Dressed in scrubs, we tried entering through the door marked, “Operating Theater”, but one of the nurses kindly directed us to the staff door, on the far left side of the wing.
Inside the vestibule of this unmarked door, the street shoes of all the staff are lined up against the walls and on a few low shelves. A medium sized bath towel serves as a doormat. There is a second set of doors, inside of which a small set of shelves holds several pairs of flip flops. These are for staff use in the operating rooms. In the U.S. we expect to wear disposable booties over our shoes, and no open-toed footwear would be allowed. But here it is standard for all surgery staff to wear flip flops.
We are given disposable masks and hair covers to wear. There are four operating rooms, and a pre-op area with four beds. Patients come in and receive drops and anesthetic, and most sit with a U-shaped metal weight on their eye to keep pressure on the orbit. Immediately before surgery, they sit on a stool outside the operating room, carrying their own medical record in their hand.
Two of the suites have two gurneys each, where simultaneous procedures share a single room. The other two suites are private. However, all of the doors to all of the rooms remain open. There is a constant flow of staff, patients, and orderlies. Sterilization of instruments takes place in steamers that look like small rice cookers, heated over a metal coil placed on the floor. Orderlies buzz in and out of rooms, taking dirty instrument trays out and delivering the sterile equipment in.