Clinical experiences in Haiti leave lasting impression

Photo by Kaitlyn McGregor

By Samantha Stacks

We are back from completing our last clinical day in Haiti, sitting around the table in the Foundation for Peace Compound yelling over the noise of a generator while playing Uno. Any hope we had of adapting to the Haitian climate has been lost, we still all are sweating, but we also appreciate the warm breeze.

Our final day operating the clinic in Bousquet went shockingly smooth. Of course, on the last day, we worked out all the kinks. We had triage nurses arrive early to have patients’ vitals taken and chief complaints known before being seen. For those who were waiting, we had patient education sessions running on a myriad of topics such as hygiene, stretching, hydration, hypertension, women’s health, and eye problems, just to name a few. I helped stock and run the pharmacy along with Ben, an FFP staff member, filling prescriptions and troubleshooting when we ran out of stock. Every patient today was so gracious and friendly, thanking us for our work. We all thought the day went better than any of us could have hoped.

Now, we are back, bags packed for the flight home tomorrow, with some time to reflect on the whirlwind that has been the last nine days. Even though this was a very unique population for all of us to practice with, I get the feeling that we all are leaving with sentiments similar that we would have towards patients back home. We hope that their conditions improve, we hope that they will take their medications as prescribed, we hope that they will take into consideration the advice we have given them to help prevent future illness. Tonight, the group discussed what we would take back with us from our trip. Top of the list were things like patience, posativity, humility, new friendship, and an appreciation for diagnostic tools.

We have learned so much from our time here. Working with translators has made us more cognizant of our wording and phrasing of questions; slowly uncovering Haitian culture and religious practices has opened our eyes to the complexity of treating both body and spirit. While treating individual patients every few months is just a drop in the bucket for all that needs to be done in Haiti, getting rid of a woman’s UTI or a baby’s ear infection does create real change in patients’ quality of life. We leave here knowing that however small the contribution, we have made a difference.

And just an update on this Uno game (I know you’ve been on the edge of your seat), its been 3 hours and still going strong (with two intermissions). We hope the effects of our work here this week will be as never ending as this game.

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