August 14, 2012
First day of my first medical mission. Done.
Our group set up a clinic in a school located in a small village about 15 minutes from where we are staying. The already primitive three-room schoolhouse became a VERY primitive three-room clinic. Two rooms were designated as medical exam rooms where 10 patients AT ONE TIME (along with EVERY member of their family) were “examined”. The third room became our make shift dental center.
Across the dirt courtyard was another small building. I’m not sure if they are used as class rooms but for the day we used them as a pharmacy and in one small section we draped off a corner to fashion (relatively) private exam area which was used for things like pelvic exams and hernia checks.
There was also a craft center, dental education area and hygiene/first aid kit distribution center. (And by “distribution center” I mean someone standing in the dirt courtyard with an open duffle bag.)
So be it. Jungle medicine.
My job for the day was to be a “runner”. Trust me on this…the job is aptly titled.
I’m not saying this because it’s me, ahem, but I think it was one of the more grueling of the available assignments for the day.
Our job was basically patient flow: we had to keep patients moving from triage to a doctor, to pharmacy, to one of the two specialists, to dental, to the weigh station, to the door.
It also meant tracking down supplies and equipment for the docs, chasing down translators, getting questions answered, delivering cold water…basically whatever it took for our medical team to stay in their station and keep seeing patients.
And boy did they do that.
We had 14 doctors today including the 8 from my team and they did an amazing job under austere conditions. Altogether they saw nearly 350 people in about 4 hours. To give you some perspective the typical physician in the emergency department will see between 2-2.5 patients per hour. Here they saw almost 6 per hour.
While it was busy and the chaotic energy of the day was somewhat exciting I must share…
The “mission” here has not drawn me in the same way my work in orphanages has. In fact the few truly memorable moments of the day were when I was able to interact with the kids.