I thought I'd write a little bit about the clinic we set up in Haiti before the memories start slipping away (I swear, I've had the worst time with memory loss over this past year...they say that grief does that to you, but it's so annoying!)
So, anyways, my friend Lexie and I were the only medically-trained personnel on our team traveling to Haiti. We're both RN's (we went to nursing school together at SPU and worked on the same unit at Seattle Childrens), and we were under the impression that when we arrived in Haiti, we would be joining up with a doctor.
Well, we got to Haiti and guess what we found? No doctor! But the pastor told us that we were expected to have a clinic that day because the whole community knew we were there. So, we agreed to start seeing patients in the afternoon and to do our best with the understanding that we didn't have the knowledge or supplies necessary to do what should be done for these people.
As we were unpacking our boxes of supplies...gauze, bandages, cold compresses, Tylenol, Tums, etc., the dirty, little two-room building we were working in started to fill with people. The next thing we knew, there were over 20 people waiting to be seen. Lexie and I looked at each other, my stomach felt like it had been twisted into a knot, and my eyes immediately welled up with tears.
I suddenly wanted to be transported home. I knew we weren't going to be able to do what we had ideally come to Haiti to do. It was a sobering moment.
But, there were people waiting to be cared for, so we started getting people in order and figuring out who was going to translate for us. And, one by one, people told us of their ails. Some just needed a wound cleaned and dressed. Others needed much, much more...visible hernias that needed repair, diabetes that needed to be medicated and followed, probable ulcers, parasites, etc. Our efforts felt so futile at times. We would encourage those who needed further medical attention to go see a doctor, but with the knowledge that a visit to the doctor (which is $2) probably wouldn't happen at the cost of an entire day's wages.
But, for the most part, people just wanted to be listened to...to feel like someone had the time of day to hear about their pain...and we were privileged to pray for many. One woman who we prayed over had come from Port au Prince. During the earthquake, her 23-year-old daughter was working as a nurse and had been crushed when the hospital collapsed. This woman had come to Dessalines to stay with family. Being a 23-year-old nurse, that one hit pretty close to home.
Here are a few pictures from our clinic days:
This is the building we used as our clinic...
I'm cleaning out a wound on a guy's foot here...it's hard to tell...
This little boy had quarter-sized boils covering his body. He was one of many with skin infections.
This little girl was brought in by her father who said that she had been suffering with severe diarrhea for days. My jaw almost hit the ground when he told me that she was 6-years-old. She was so dehydrated, so malnourished. My eyes tear up just looking at these pictures.
And, this sweet baby had been unable to eat or drink for days because of the infection that had ravaged her lower jaw. We took her to the hospital in Dessalines to get the antibiotics and treatment she needed.
I feel like the work has just begun. We have such a clear picture of how we want to contribute to the health of the community of Dessalines in the future...hopefully soon.