A new clinic: Anana

Pardon me if this blog isn't my best. I've succumbed to the GI bug (virus? cholera?) that is sweeping the group. Earl has a really bad case of it and had to spend the day in the compound. Betsy may have it. After a night and day of feeling bad myself (though I was okay for the clinic), I'm going on Cipro per doctor's orders (it's very handy to travel with a medical team and a full pharmacy). For the record, that makes five, possibly six of us, getting whatever this illness is.

Anyway, today was a good day to finish on. We set out on what felt like a real adventure, because no one had been to Anana before. Glen even had trouble finding it on a map. After some issues finding a second car, we drove about 45 minutes, where the first 15 were on paved highway and the rest was on a rocky road. We passed cisterns installed by World Vision and a Baptist Church we were told was built by a professor from Virginia Tech. We also saw some rings for cockfights.

The hike seemed easy at only 1.5 miles/1 hour, and only the occasional steep incline or descent. The thrill of the walk was a rickety suspension bridge we had to use to cross a river. It had rusty metal rope-like rails, chain-link sides, and a wooden plank floor (with a few holes). Someone spoke with a woman who lived there and said she'd never crossed it; she was too scared. Our group took it in stride, and even the interpreters and helpers were laughing and taking photos.

The Anana clinic was set up in a church that was decorated with plastic flower vines and paper mache balls hanging from the ceiling. We had one big room, which we used for triage, and a smaller stage-like area, where we put the three doctors and Audrey. (Audrey is a Family NP, joined us today. She's part of a dental clinic group from the Highlands, N.C., area that just arrived, and she asked to join us. We were glad for the help, and she did great work.) The pharmacy was a table facing the church's front door that patients accessed from outside.

Though we had less space, the clinic ran well. Blood pressures were taken outside, and Suz did a wonderful job with this task again (I hate that I didn't get a photo of her in action!). She was at a small table in the shade, surrounded by waiting people, for almost the whole day. She told me she enjoyed how the job allowed her to literally touch every person we were seeing, and do her best to comfort them. She said she prays for them often too.

Again, Fritz-Raul, Becca (with Sonel translating) and Fritzlene ran triage, and I entered every person's data into our hypertension database. We saw more children this time, which actually made the end of the clinic a bit emotional. A few children had maladies that couldn't be treated with any of our medications, including one young boy who had had siezures and brain damage. The doctors felt the most compassionate response was to tell the mothers: "Stop going to rural clinics. There's nothing here that can cure your child. You need to go the hospital in Cange or Mirebalais and ask for help." I just hope the mothers follow through.

Glen wrapped up the clinic with an uplifting speech thanking the community health workers for coordinating the clinics and providing health care services for all of these people year-round. Mother Suz blessed them all, and then we took group photos. I felt like we all finished up in good spirits knowing that good work was done.

I thank Glen (and Harry, from afar) for successfully coordinating a brand new clinic, which ended up running really well. 

We've all struck up relationships with different interpreters, and we've seen the hard work the community health workers have done to set up these clinics in their areas. So even though everyone was volunteering their time, our group pooled together money to tip them all (and the staff at Cange who have been cooking and cleaning for us). Fritzlene made goody bags of snacks, and Becca brought some New Testaments in Creole to pass out as well. I hope they know how much we appreciated their work. These clinics would not work without their time and talents.

We're done with clinics! As I type in bed, the rest of the group is taking inventory of all the medications so we can return them to the Cange pharmacy. We've done our work for now, and we pass the baton to the March team.