| Oct 18, 2010
I have gotten through my few days in the clinic. From now on, I don’t think I’ll ever complain of being too busy back home.
Patients were waiting as we showed up at the clinic. Some of them travelled far and wide on a taxi “put put” motorcycles (some I’m still not sure how they get on and off them!). The tendency is for us to apply our North American cultures on time and efficiency. The Haitians are fine, or at least very tolerant, of waiting their turn. There are no scheduled appointments and patients show up when they want to or when they can. We see people on a “first come, first served” basis. They are lined up on a bench.
Lizette, the office assistant, helps us keep track of patients as sometimes it is not clear who the patients are, who the families are and who an interested bystander is. They seem interested to watch others’ therapy sessions, learn from each other and share their story with one another. HIPPA is “out the window” here, but then again it does not seem to be an issue.
Another difference between, as referred to in cultural speak, our “cold” culture and the Haitian “hot” culture is the collective nature versus individualist nature more known to North Americans. Resources and staffing is tight so patients and families help out when they can and work closely together. Whereas we need our personal space, patients do not seem bothered to sit closely together to share a mat table or workbench. In fact, if they see a therapist is struggling physically with a session, they will jump in to assist as they are able to. Patients don’t seem to get impatient to wait for their time on the parallel bars as they know their time will come in due time. This is definitely an “eye opener” for me and I now need to be more open to adjust my expectations.
I’m also learning patience with getting the facts of the situation. Getting an accurate history can sometimes take multiple sessions… or many questions interspersed over the whole session. It’s a process and one that no one is interested in rushing as the relational aspect is more important than the facts itself. The initial history may read: “fell in a hole and then leg was amputated.” After a few more questions or sessions, the full gamut of the history is revealed and this may reveal the open fracture, subsequent infection and then hospitalization.
As my time continues, I anticipate I will learn additional nuances of the culture and gain an even great appreciation of the “hot” culture. It certainly makes things less stressful by going with the flow as you can’t “control” the situation that presents itself. If anything, you can expect the unexpected as that occurs here on a daily basis.