Clinical creativity brings hope in Haiti

Assessment and history taking.

By Samantha Stacks

We woke up ready for our first day of clinical. And if the day went anything like our morning coffee, we knew it was going to be hot and steamy (spoiler, it was). Sitting around and discussing the upcoming day eating pancakes under the shade of the giant almond tree in the compound, we wondered what types of patients we would be seeing and what the day would bring.

We arrived after a bumpy bus ride past some of the rubble that still remains post earthquake while seing the effects of Haiti’s current drought, and thought of all the respiratory problems that arise along with the dust from these factors. We walked into the church where we’d be seeing patients and were greeted by a crowd patiently waiting for clinic to open. Pastor, the director of Foundation for Peace, opened with a prayer and a song, ‘How Great Thou Art’ (or rather the Creole version of it). Hearing the many voices harmonize was a powerful moment for many of us, and instilled a sense of community that would stick with us for the entire day. We saw not one patient at a time, but usually an entire family of 4+ people, all having various (occasionally the same) illnesses. Neighbors and friends came to the clinic together, all searching for an answer for whatever was ailing them. We worked as a team doing intakes, taking histories, diagnosing, and treating what we could, and referring the rest.

Treating people in a low resource setting where a few Tupperware boxes are your pharmacy, three thermometers are shared to treat 200+ persons, and you’re lacking even glucose and pregnancy tests definitely means you have to get creative. However, we also realized that our assessment and history taking skills were more important than ever. We have AMAZING interpreters that worked tirelessly with us to ask question after question to get the information we needed. All in all it was an exhausting, sweaty, and fast paced day, but ultimately rewarding and left us all optimistic for the days ahead.

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