Alternative Winter Break – Jamaica, Day 6

By Richelle St. Louis
Photos by Jordan Waites

Richelle St. Louis

Hey everyone, this is Richelle from the alternative break trip in Montego Bay! Today was our last day of clinical events, which started with health screenings at Flankers New Testament Church of God. The health screenings consisted of many of the same content as our previous screenings, such as blood glucose, blood pressures, BMI calculations, and nutrition teaching that was individualized for the needs of each person. Our time at Flankers was extremely enjoyable and we were blessed with the opportunity to intimately socialize with the members of the church. One interaction that left the greatest impression with me from this location was with a elderly female member who I was taking a blood pressure for. During her assessment, I noted that her blood pressure was elevated and began a discussion with her about hypertension and monitoring her pressure. I asked the elder about her primary physician and if she knew what the normal range of her blood pressure tended to be. In response to my questions, the elder stated that she did not have a primary physician and had not had her pressure taken for an extensive period. This interaction may seem trivial to those who are hearing it from an outside perspective, but listening to the elder resonated with a major sentiment that us nursing students have had during our week here in Montego Bay: what difference is the work we are doing here truly making in the lives of those we encounter in the community?

Every trip struggles with the issues of trying to make an impact with the work that we do in order to give meaning to the time we spend serving those abroad. I believe what this trip has taught many of us is that sometimes even the smallest things, like informing someone that they should visit (or find) a primary physician or take the medication, can make a bigger impact than we think. At the moment I did not know what to tell her other than to see if she could find a way to come into contact with a physician to monitor her pressure. It may not seem like a meaningful thing in the moment, but just talking and educating her about the dangers of high blood pressure seemed to instill motivation to look further into this concern.

To cap off the remainder of our stay, our last scheduled event was a visit to the sprawling 10 floor location of the Cornwall Hospital. Unfortunately, we were unable to get access to the larger facility due to issues with air quality. However, this setback gave us the unique opportunity to observe the flexibility that nursing professionals possess in order to overcome adverse circumstances and deliver the best care to their patients. They had to relocate patients to various areas in a building that was previously the nurses’ dormitory located across from the hospital. With limited equipment, we witnessed crowded patient rooms with minimal access to much of the medical equipment that we use in American hospitals. There were no IV machines or cardiac monitors, but the staff made do with their resources despite the extra strain placed on the nurses due to the department relocations. This resourcefulness made us appreciate the access we have in America to medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, and air-conditioned facilities.

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