Today was our third day on Eleuthera, Bahamas. During the morning, my group was sent to Tarpum Bay to work with the nurses in the clinic there. The majority of the clinics in Eleuthera serve a variety of different patients, and they attend to numerous ailments. Each day, they typically have one type of service offered (such as a well-baby clinic day, a day for general ailments, and a day to see the doctor). Wednesday is their well-baby clinic day, so we were able to work with many different children coming in for general check-ups and vaccinations, although some sick children also came in. Once again, the nurses here had to do the initial intake of the patient, assess the child, and then either provide a treatment in the office, or prescribe the appropriate medication to go home with the child. I am continually amazed by the amount of work that they have to do, and the knowledge they must to possess in order to do that work effectively.
After we finished our nursing work during the well-baby clinic (where we made friends with many adorable, tiny patients), we went with the nurses to do two home visits. These home visits are done approximately once a month for patients who are unable to come into the clinic for whatever reason. The nurses go to their houses, perform a general assessment, and determine what the patient’s plan is for the upcoming weeks. One of the aspects of these visits that I found most special is how much the nurses know about the patient’s social history and family history. As one nurse put it, “everyone knows everyone on Eleuthera. Well, almost.” Both patients seemed especially appreciative and happy to see the nurses as they came in to care for them. I was impressed by the way the nurses incorporated their knowledge of the patient’s family history (such as their brother, father, or grandfather having hypertension, diabetes, cancer, etc) into the planning for the patient. The community of Eleuthera is so tightly knit together, and it seems to truly pay off not only through increased social interaction, but also healthcare planning.
Our last stop for the day was at the primary school near the Tarpum Bay clinic to watch the students practice their dance routines for the upcoming Junkanoo Festival. Junkanoo is a masquerade/parade type of street festival common throughout the Bahamas during the month of January. The adults have their own version, and the younger kids celebrate a Junior Junkanoo, where they make elaborate costumes and masks and dance in a street parade with songs and drums. All of the students were busy practicing their dances when we stopped by to see them perform. Even though the dance seemed fairly exhausting under the warm Bahamian sun, the students truly seemed to enjoy themselves and to want to work together on their dance. I thought this was an especially fun way for them to get exercise, given the concern with obesity and diets on the island. One of our own faculty members here with us, Dr. Tami Thomas, had suggested this to the students as a great form of exercise on one of her previous trips to Eleuthera. As Dr. Thomas said, “the people of the island have such a great culture and such great resources here…someone just needs to tap into that, and many of their problems could be solved.”
Finally, at the end of the day, we were surprised by a special visit at our house by some of the local neighborhood children. They came up to our door twice and gave us various little “presents”, such as flowers, berries, and a bracelet. Their kindness and generosity shocked us, and I know it touched my heart. We didn’t have much to offer them in return, but they really weren’t even expecting anything of value from us… They seemed excited when we were able to give them some of our stickers from our previous days of teaching in the schools. We were once again shown how caring this island is, especially in our community of Tarpum Bay. The Bahamians on this island truly have a way of making everyone feel at home, and like we’re part of their family.