"In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks."
John Muir

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Task at Hand, part 2

Upon arriving at the clinic of the day, we brushed off the dust and calmed our nerves from the "exciting" truck ride there. Then we began to gather the waiting patients into some sort of organized chaos under Andre's leadership.
As you may notice, apparently the color of the day was blue. :-)
I never got the memo...

With the help of one of our invaluable translators, we set up a triage area.
At this station information was gathered and written down.
Andrea took blood pressures and temperatures as needed.
Each patient held tight to a scrap of paper with name, age and a list of symptoms,
all written in English, more or less.
Often the list needed clarification as the paper read, "heart beat pain" or "waist pain".

I have a habit of making every attempt at starting out organized...
I called this little spot my "supply cabinet". Every nurse needs tools handy.
I was especially thankful to have a bench like this one rather than the dirt floor
as was the case at another site. Flies were at them all, of course.
This was our first clinic and we didn't realize how great it was.
There were walls and a roof, sort of. Even an occasional breeze.

Terri was so fast at pouring meds that the picture of her blurred.
The lovely, colorful flowers decorating this first clinic were there because this building also served as the church for services and a safe house for women and babies who were not comfortable in the tents surrounding it.
This table is our pharmacy and our newly appointed pharmacists remarkably read our prescriptions and dispensed meds for coughs, fevers, pain,
diarrhea, infections, fungi, worms, rashes and much more...
What a most remarkable team!

The word each waited expectantly for was "suivant" (I am quite certain that is NOT how it is spelled, but the meaning is "next". Any French speakers out there--please enlighten me.)
The waiting could be long and Julia entertained the troops with songs and shows featuring Theo, her little puppet friend. Kids were happy and there seemed no language barrier in our waiting rooms.

Assessing the patients was challenging, to say the least.
Each question and answer had to be translated.
My interpreter was Juann (again, spelling probably isn't right) and our teamwork became so smooth after awhile that she asked questions before I had a chance. Once I had done teaching on certain topics, I only had to say, "Please tell him about..." and she did! She was smart and tireless and I appreciated her more than I can say.
The unique part of working with a third party such as an interpreter is that I still wanted to direct my attention to my patient, even though he or she was not actually speaking to me.
Although I didn't know the words being spoken, much was gained by verbal expression.

Hillary seemed to treat many of the dear, little infants and newborns.
It was just the way the line ended up when "suivant" was called.
She decided she was in charge of the "maternity wards".

One such case is shown here where the parents of 5-day-old twins brought in their precious babes to be examined. They had been born at home in the tent and needed care of the umbilical cords. The old ribbons that had tied them off at birth were still on.
Babies such as these were dressed in clean, tiny clothes but colors of pink or blue made no distinction as to whether the babies were boy or girl. Took me a while to stop assuming and it was after I fussed over a dear little one all dressed in pink ruffles and lace to discover he was a little wee boy!
Look at the face of this tired mother. Try to imagine caring for these newborns in a tent without clean water, lights, diaper service or even baby wipes.

Emma and Kendrick, pharmacists extraordinaire, measuring and counting.
Emma's Haitian background gave her the gift of speaking French and Creole and she spent hours each day instructing patients on how and when to take their medications correctly.

The Bible teaches that we are all part of one body, whether the head, hand or foot and noone is greater than another. All must work together for the body to function purposely and effectively. Our team proved this concept in a mighty way and we knew God had specifically chosen each of us to work together to best serve the people of Haiti.

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