We are through our first two days in the Ramallah Medical Complex. We are rounding with the Pediatrics staff this week, which is right up my alley. The rounding process is a mix of English and Arabic. All the notes and orders are written in English, but the conversations with the parents and children are usually in Arabic. Needless to say, we three pale travelers got some attention in the hospital. Nothing bad, just surprise and curiosity.

The hospital is a referral center, primarily for inpatient and specialty care. The building is modern and new. The patient volume isn’t overwhelming. There were 4 patients to a room, and they are not big rooms. The culture here seems to give much more authority to doctors. We found a little street café for pita lunches that we like. The friendly old guy who runs it gave us complimentary falafel today, too.

We also did grocery shopping, money exchanging, and an early evening meeting with Dr. Jaraiseh, who works on quality control for the Flagship Project, who spoke about his work to coordinate the three providers of healthcare for Palestinians. The current struggle is to implement an electronic system for the organization and monitoring of service allocation. Which is more interesting a topic of conversation than you might think. The nightcap Monday was meeting with Harb’s beautiful engineer friend Hadeer, who drove us around and promised to show us more of Ramallah’s vibrant night life during our stay.

And tonight we hit the Skybox with Harb’s friend Sa’ed, a Harvard anthropology graduate student doing his doctoral research in the West Bank. We also met Ian, an instructor at the Friends School, and his father Scott, visiting from Pennsylvania. Had a great meal with those guys, after which Harb once again failed on our behalf to pay for anything. Palestinians make generosity a contact sport. You can’t just offer to cover the bill, you have to fight for it.

We’ve seen lots of Ramallah in cars and walking everywhere. Harb tries to get us to take taxis because he hates waking up a second before he has to. Thats it for now. Don’t let the man give you the “Shekel Down”.


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