Embracing Eleuthera

bay street
Walking back from the picnic tables at the library (good wifi, scary bees nest) Elisabeth and I took the long way home. We headed down Lord Street waving at patients we had met last week, hanging laundry and preparing supper.  As we headed to the waterfront we passed Tarpum Bay Primary and a group of boys playing basketball.  We hooked a left onto Bay Street, passing conch salad stands closing for the night. Separating the road and the Caribbean is a cement wall with a few wooden staircases leading to the sand.  Recent storms left high waters and today the steps took us directly into the ocean. We took a quick dip and looked back on the past few days…
Friday was bitter sweet as we said good by to our week one clinic spots. After 5 days we felt competent screening patients, answering phones, filing, filling prescriptions, and communicating with the nurses, physicians, and locals. Earlier that morning Rock Sound Airport had a flag raising ceremony commencing the start of a 40 day celebration for the upcoming 40th anniversary of Bahamian independence. Why am I mentioning this you may ask?  Patrice and I walked into our clinic with a packed waiting room and no clinic staff. 
We jumped in and started the patient log, pulled files, and began screening. Filling out either a “general encounter” or “child health encounter”, Patty and I took turns taking blood pressures, recording medication histories, and establishing chief complaints. Did I mention it was wound day? We assisted Dr. Smith in draining an axillary abscess, suturing a leg wound, redressing a gangrene toe from a diabetic patient, and assessing an ocular puncture wound.  Patrice and I were moved by Dr. Smith’s empathy and tireless work ethic. He knows his patients beyond their acute or chronic conditions and provides compassionate, holistic care. He also provided us with numerous educational moments, calling us in to hear a murmur, or see an ear infection through the otoscope. We feel so fortunate to have had such a dynamic clinical experience. 
Friday night we headed North (or down the island as Eleutheran’s say–South is up island–we learned this the hard way) for the fish fry. We dug into the food–actually dug, with our hands (sorry Patty I had to put a picture in). We watched a man prepare fresh conch salad and participated in some fish fry festivities. Not to toot our own horn, but Emory really delivered-Joanna won second place at the limbo contest and went head to head with Jasmine in a dance off, having already out danced the other fish friers.
Saturday Robyn took us on a tour to preachers cave where British settlers first discovered the Bahamas after a ship wreck. On the way home we stopped by glass window bridge where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean. We also made a stop at the Governor’s Harbour library where the first annual youth art show was displayed. There was a band on the porch of the historic building playing what we’re fairly sure was “brick house” (Commodores).
On Sunday we attended a lengthy Methodist Father’s Day service at the church below our house. It began with a “welcome” time to meet and greet the congregation. As I reached out to shake the hand of Alia, a 7 year old girl who later read a poem, she bypassed my hand and leaned in for a full hug. We’re so thankful and appreciative of the warm welcome Eleuthera has given us.
Today was the first day at our new clinic spots and we all seemed to have a packed day. Patrice and I both removed sutures (two different wounds, two different fights), and provided diabetic education. The nurses at Hatchet Bay are encouraging and make sure to include us in every educational moment.
Meanwhile as we experience new clinic sights and gather feedback from the nurses, we’re pulling together some exciting quality improvement initiatives. While it’s hard to imagine coming home, I am beginning to developing heat rash in some unfortunate places…
I’ll leave you with as many pictures as this bandwidth will allow me. Much to my chagrin there is some documentation of my mosquito bites etc, I’ll spare you those. 
Warm regards, 
housepatty work
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