Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Village of Ontario & Teakettle

We had our first day of clinics today. On our way into town, we had a chance to visit the pharmacy and see our favorite pharmacist Daisy! It's wonderful to visit a third world country and see familiar faces of people excited to come and give you a big hug- it makes the planet not seem so huge afterall. The group divided into two and went to separate villages.
PZ took a group into Teakettle (my favorite village with the great agates lining the roads). The group there over dinner told us they had some wonderful experiences. They said everything was moving slowly and that the children in the village were very playful. One of the Post-bacc students Steph said she now has a calling for peds!

Candace and I took a group into Ontario, a town I had never visited. The morning began with the town chairman opening the empty building we would convert into the clinic. We then had to figure out how to best set up the operations inside. This year's team was curious about how things had worked last year and what had worked best. It was nice to see how by applying the lessons we learned last year, we were able to quickly get set up and running with a pharmacy, several stations, a reception and lobby, and private exam room. The diabetic educator from Belmopan hospital Rose Anderson showed up later. She was another face I was looking forward to seeing and it felt good to have a nice big hug waiting in return. This woman is amazing. She dedicates her life to helping patients manage their diabetes and her heart for these people is very large. This year, Rose spent the day with us. She brought a centrifuge, blood testing supplies, and HIV screening kits. In addition to everything else we were doing, we were able to screen people for HIV. What a beautiful thing to see a woman's face light up and burst with a smile after finding out her HIV test is negative! Apparently, it's not uncommon for men down here to have a wife and one or several mistrisses. Consequently, some of the women here have reason to be worried about their results.

Outside the clinic, we were able to meet some wonderful people on our home visits. I took the students out in groups from house to house. You just go up to the home, find folks that are home, out walking, and either let them know about the clinic and encourage them to attend or check out and treat them right there on the spot. All of our homevisit bags are stocked complete with wound care equipment, over the counter medicines, blood glucose testing equipment, blood pressure cuffs, and other screening equipment. I had brought Jeanie & Justine with me on one of the visits. We visited an 86-year old woman named Dodotai Gonzales. She was sitting on the porch with her daughter. Their home was surrounded by plenty of beautiful foliage. She sat there, in her fuzzy pink socks and fuzzy pink sweater, hair covered by a bubushka, and her skin dark, leathery, and wrinkled told the story of a woman who had spent her life working hard and spent much time in the sun. After we checked her out, I asked them if they would like to pray together before we left. The two woman got so excited! We all held hands and the two women both started saying their own separate prayers aloud in spanish. We had no idea what they were saying, but we kept hearing, "Jesus, Jesus, gracias, gracias". They went on for a long 5 minutes or so and the older woman just smiled as a few tears started to fall from her eyes. She hugged us all and they asked when we would return. The people's faith here is so strong, and it's beautiful to see how faith and prayer transcends all language barriers. While we had no idea what they were saying, our hearts were in the same place. Later in the day, I took out Patra and Meghan. We ended up at a Miss Rosemarie's house and had a chance to pray with here as well. She just loved Meghan. She looked up at her and would just light up. She also loved Patra's hair. Dan and Andrew had a chance to get out on a few home visits with me as well. We saw some interesting developmental deficits in a pair of twins which was pretty interesting. There was also a sweet man in a wheelchair who had broken his back 8 years ago in a car accident. He lives along in a house that looks like a chicken coup with a ramp. It's amazing how someone in that condition can function in those conditions and do it still with a smile.

By the end of the day, both groups had cumulatively seen and treated more than 200 patients. We saw everything from newborns to a 96 year old man suffering from cataracts. After returning to our hotel an eating some dinner, we all did some journaling. PZ wanted us to write about our first impressions and how we are meeting our initial goals. We then had a chance to go around and discuss what worked well and what didn't, so we can continue to become more efficient and productive.

P.S. Creature inventory for the day... 1 gecko, too many dogs to count, a moldy bat that died while hanging upside down, and a big millipede.

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