Spring Medical Mission Trip (Day 3 & 4)
Its Brandon here writing the email since the Email Czar has fallen asleep on the job. If you, the readers, happen to enjoy this emailmore than the others, please let us know. We welcome criticism and we are perfectly capable of relieving Connor of his email Duties for the trip. He will completely understand once he awakes from his slumber. All humor aside, we are happy to report that we are all alive and well! Today marked the first day of clinic! Some of us started the day with a short journey through the Haitian countryside, waking up with the sun to the sound of roosters and breaking the fog with a brisk run. We were even cheered on as we ran by the locals who were walking the road as well! By the time we returned to St. Gabriel's School, the grounds were teeming with local artisans looking to sell us their goods. They offered hand carved statues, masks, and other home décor as well as tapestries, dresses, scrubs and bracelets. As anyone who came out to the art show knows, the local art is remarkably colorful! I'm sure everyone on the trip bought something to bring home to show you.
The local artists took off as we began the clinic. We partitioned ourselves into 4 separate rooms to keep the flow of patients moving. We started off the day being assigned to a certain room but those plans quickly changed as the craziness of the clinic showed itself. We all participated in the Intake room, Provider room, Pharmacy, and Special Procedures room. Most of us now have incredible stories from just one day of clinic! We have seen so much gratefulness for our presence here from every patient we have seen. They are all so happy to see us. We have shared stories of the patients we have seen and the joy experienced during their care. I was particularly moved by a young girl who was experiencing difficulty seeing long distances. I was able to fit her for glasses and watched as her face lit up when she could finally read the board! Her smile was contagious.
The building crews took off early in the morning to put new roofs on a few local homes. Connor and Addie got to ride on motorcycles to get to the furthest build site (which I here was quite the experience). Their day was spent learning about the community and different projects that have been started to give back to Fontaine. They were fortunate enough to eat lunch at the home of Daniel, the man running all of these projects. The reports at the end of the day were that the food was incredible (I am pretty certain they will want the same food cooked at home Mr. and Mrs. Arquette and Fagan). Sam and I worked at a more local home that was only a short walk away. When we arrived, we quickly realized that there was not much that we could do. After about 30 minutes or so we spoke with Pierre-Louis and were told to come backlater when the frame was done so that we could help with the sheet metal that was being put up as the roof.
We returned to the clinic and rotated through the rooms until lunch. At that point, we went back to the home and helped out in whatever way that we could for the rest of the afternoon. Mike and Sarah also got to take a short ride to their build site. They were not able to help as much after Mike stepped on a beam the wrong way, dented a piece of sheet metal, and had a hard time hitting the nail with the hammer. One thing to note was that the women on the builds were not permitted to do much. It was very apparent that women simply did not do physical labor. Even passing the sheet metal up to the roof drew stares from all the locals who were building or watching.
After the clinic closed for the night, we took a walk around town. We walked out to a moonshine distillery to take a look around (maybe taste some of the local fares) and discovered it was abandoned. The walk produced amazing views and acted as a way for all of us to get out and stretch our legs after a long day in the clinic. I hear there is a sugar cane factory somewhere nearby so I am hoping to see that relatively soon. If you've ever met me, you know I will find the sugar!
We are all quite exhausted from our day and looking forward to a restful night's sleep. We cannot wait to get up early and do it all again!
On behalf of the entire team, we love you all.
The Replacement Email Czar
Family and Friends,
Now that I am awake, I will offer a reply to my replacement Email Czar's comments. I quickly made a friend in a little boy named Jeffrey, so as soon as clinic finishes, I become Jeffrey's personal transportation and entertainment. I am sure those of you who are parents can relate to the energy and excitement of a young child. As such, my slumber last night was necessary to ensure proper patient treatment and further entertainment for Jeffrey.
Now that that's settled, down to business!
Some adjustments were made to the clinic for the second day. Instead of having an intake room, where we elicited vitals and a chief complaint from the patient, we decided it best to have two provider rooms to increase the efficiency of patient treatment. This worked well throughout the day with our main rate limiting factor being access to translators. We can all relate to the add-ed dimension of difficulty in patient care posed by a language barrier. There were plenty of tear worthy cases. Mike and Claudia had quite the interesting disimpaction case. Ryan was able to quickly learn a plevic exam under Dr. Brewer's guidance and quickly utilized this new skill to examine and correctly diagnose a patient with a vaginal infection. We also saw a woman, Pierre Louis' wife, who was 9 months pregnant. Tammy was able to examine the baby on ultrasound which was a beautiful moment for Pierre-Louis and his wife.
Despite the variety in cases, we could all agree on the incredible toughness and resiliency of the Haitian people. Whether it's a painful joint injection or the distance people trael to see us, we are all inspired at how patient people are during treatment and how thankful they are afterwards. We have all begun to realize how fortunate we are and the luxuries that are afforded to us at home.
These feelings really hit home when a few of us made a home visit. One of our translators' fathers had fallen and become ill. Traveling 15 minutes from the school to the small home of this family and getting an immediate glimpse into their lifestyle was eye opening. Unfortunately, there was not much we could offer the patient in terms of medication or treatment. Rather, we focused on making the burden of the caretakers easier and easing the pain the patient was experiencing. Our translator was so thankful that we had come to exam to examine his father and blessed us all repeatedly for our efforts.
While this home visit was occurring, other members of the team travelled to a local sugar cane factory. Some of the local kids taught us how to pick the sugar cane, peel the bark, and eat it. I was able to personally try it when I returned from the home visit and would recommend everyone do the same if given the chance!
Each day we learn something new, perform a new procedure or make a new friend. It's moments like showing Jeffrey how to use a stethoscope and knowing he could her my heart at the end of the day that keep us all rejuvenated and fresh. I think we can all think of a patient or friend that we have made in Haiti that has lifted our spirits. We look forward to tomorrow and hope that we can do our best to assist the Haitian people to the highest of our abilities.
Nap we demen - see you tomorrow,
Email Czar of behalf of the Haiti Team