| May 10, 2010
Today unexpectedly was our last day in Leogane. We had to return to Port-au-Prince with an ill team member to be sent home early on Tuesday. We are scheduled to fly out Wednesday ourselves.
For our last Haiti mobile clinic, we went to Sacre Coeur and saw patients under the cool branches of mango trees. The pharmacy was set up on the porch of an earthquake-damaged building. Two weeks ago we had clinic in a school across the street, but the school teacher was understandably reluctant to close school again today.
We are very insistent on parents accompanying their children to the clinics for treatment and to get instruction on how to administer medicines. I had to send a young girl home three times today to fetch her mother. When Fred finally examined her, she had a badly injured and possibly broken elbow. He put a splint on it and told the mother to take her to the hospital for X-rays if it continues to hurt.
Dr. Julia treated a premature baby who (from the information we could obtain from the teenage mother) only weighed about 3 pounds when it was born. The mother, who had a year-old-child also, was hard pressed to feed both of them and was having difficulty nursing. Julia gave her nursing lessons and spent a lot of time examining the baby, who was doing well despite being born in difficult circumstances.
One of the special moments in the clinic came when Dr. Dean was examining two young sisters with chest colds. After examining one girl, he started working on the other child, with her sister watching in rapt attention.
“Do you want to hear what it sounds like?” he asked the sister through his interpreter. She nodded yes and he fitted his stethoscope into her ears and let her listen to her sister’s breath sounds. The little wide-eyed girl was fascinated.
I got to watch much more of the clinic today because I was able to turn the triage and intake work over to our interpreter Max who will take my place when Fred and I leave Haiti. Once I was tired, I started wandering around the clinic and watching the doctors treat patients and taking pictures. It was a rare clinic experience for me.
Dr. Sunny, who usually sees patients, had opted to work in the pharmacy today to replace a sick team member who had stayed back at the team house to recuperate. He was very firm with the patients, especially the parents, when he gave medication instructions. Not content with them nodding yes, that they understood, he made them explain it back to him. Unfortunately they often got it wrong, but he was patient and worked with them until they got it right.
That afternoon, when we returned to the team house, we found that our ailing team member was not improved. Fred made the decision to return to Port-au-Prince with her immediately and asked headquarters to arrange a flight out for her Tuesday. (This is a harsh environment and people who get sick here seem to get worse rapidly. We’re all dehydrated despite deliberately drinking large amounts of water. And we get a lot of patients who complain of dizziness whose ills could be healed just by drinking more water).
We were almost packed, so as soon as we could finish, we said our last tearful goodbyes to staff and team members and headed for Port-au-Prince.
It was a traffic nightmare. Rush hour had started by the time we neared Port-au-Prince and then it started to rain hard, compounding the problems. Streets flooded and traffic backed up. Horns were blaring. Traffic cops were woefully ineffective.
And our driver Gil, who had never been to Medical Teams International headquarters in Port-au-Prince, did not know how to get there. Fred was fairly certain he knew the directions from the U.S. Embassy and Gil knew where that was located. But by the time we got there it was dark and raining heavily.
Amazingly Fred recognized the street and we came right to the Medical Teams International office where we spent the night.