Nothing I can do but vent.


Had a rough mission this evening. As some people know, I am currently working overseas in an environment with very different beliefs and behaviors. Typically, I try to "go with the flow;" however, I can still question the validity of people's beliefs and actions. This is especially true when it puts another person's life at risk.

We were involved in the Evacuation of a pediatric patient. A very young patient sustained severe cranio/facial trauma and orthopedic trauma. The military arranged for the Evacuation and we agreed to assist with transport to the receiving facility on our end.

However, upon arrival at the receiving facility, we were met with a situation that I have never encountered. Only the patient's father escorted the patient. The family is poor and the mother was unable to come with the patient. Unfortunately, the receiving physician and staff refused to accept the patient. The facility while basic by western standards, has some of the neuro/ortho specialties required, so level of care was not the issue.

The issue was due to the fact that only the father accompanied the patient. Only women are allowed on the wards. It is forbidden to have a male around all of the other women. Obviously, the patient is in rough shape and the father is distraught with grief. Attempting to explain the fact that the father was only concerned about his child and absolutely not concerned about the women on the ward was met by deaf ears. It is hard to explain the feelings of anger that one experiences when put into these situations. Refusing to care for a critical patient because we need to keep men and women separated is a concept that I simply cannot understand. Not allowing for special situations or circumstances in order to follow some prescribed belief/behavior seems such a rigid way to look at this world.

After calling the administrator, the staff finally agreed to admit the patient for one day only. However, the patient will have to stay in the ER and somehow the father will have to find a woman to care for the patient. A poor man several hundred miles from his family is somehow going to pull a suitable woman out of his butt in 24 hours hu?

Absolutely nothing I can do or say to help. Really goes against what we in the west think and believe.


2 Posts

SO manythings we take for granted - thank you for being there btw - while hard it would be much worse without you i imagine.

Specializes in Peds Hem, Onc, Med/Surg. Has 8 years experience.
SO manythings we take for granted - thank you for being there btw - while hard it would be much worse without you i imagine.

Took the words right out my mouth.

Its hard to believe but had we been brought up in that culture, we most likely would have been the ones opposing the male with the patient.

My heart goes out to them. I wish there was something someone could do......

Specializes in PICU. Has 23 years experience.

That is tragic. You're right, it's hard to comprehend.

Specializes in ICU. Has 13 years experience.

Oh wow, there are no words I can say. Just speechless.

I wonder how long, if ever, they will start accepting fathers there? That is the only person this child has! I am wondering if they can accept him there as long as he stays in the room with the child and doesn't leave? This is just so hard for me to comprehend, and it makes me proud to be an American.


1 Article; 1,905 Posts

Hard to say. It is not about accepting fathers, but rather about a man in an area with women. It was quite clear that the patient would absolutely not leave the ER. The child would not be admitted to the ward with only a male caregiver.

I had a similar experience a couple of months ago when we transferred a pregnant female to another facility. She was around the mid 20's in gestation and developed sudden onset vaginal bleeding and cramping. Obviously, I did the physical exam, tried to find FHT's, placed an IV, gave a fluid challenge, transported on her side, and obtained a history. However, once at the hospital, I was stopped by armed guards. I could not enter the maternity area and be near any of the woman. I know for a fact, that I would have been gunned down without a second though if I pushed the issue. Luckily, I was riding with a female doctor on that specific call.

Something that I have a hard time understanding. Especially after what I experienced today. I mean, parents love their children over here, people must feel empathy or sorrow when a child suffers? It is hard to understand how simple beliefs are put ahead of family. Then again, what I see as a simple belief may mean something else to people over here. However, I still cannot agree with letting little helpless people suffer because of the adults beliefs.

classicdame, MSN, EdD

2 Articles; 7,255 Posts

Specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator.

When are we ever going to look on people as, PEOPLE???Nothing else


1 Article; 266 Posts

Specializes in Making the Pt laugh..

I have done courses in cultural sensitivity, cultural safety and a few others and while I try to understand and empathise, I am left cold at what rational people will or in this case wont do because of a cultural norm.

I know some of our customs and beliefs would have many people in different parts of the world feeling the same way but how can anyone put beliefs before a childs needs?

I have to say that you are a better man than me GilaRN, I could not do what you do, hats off mate.

canoehead, BSN, RN

6,841 Posts

Specializes in ER. Has 30 years experience.

Less than ten years ago I worked in a North American hospital where a dad wanted to room in with his child. At that time moms were the parents that chose to stay in hospital 98% of the time. There was no policy not allowing dads but the nurse assigned to the patient told him he couldn't stay without permission from the mom of the other child staying in the room. Permission was asked for and granted, but I wondered at the time why one was given peference over the other. And what would have happened if permission was not given. I was floating to the unit and chose not to question the nurse at the time.

Altra, BSN, RN

6,255 Posts

Specializes in Emergency & Trauma/Adult ICU.

It's hard to find words to comment on this.

I'll just say thanks for all you do, GilaRN. Be safe.

I will pray for this child and her family. This is so sad and unnecessary.

You are a wonderful example of a kind, caring, professional. May He keep you safe.


1 Article; 1,905 Posts

I appreciate the comments.

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