I wasn’t sure what to expect from our first clinical day. Once we arrived at the site, we were given a tour of the area and began to set up for the clinic. The students were divided into 3 groups based on their clinical focus. One group was responsible for taking vital signs for each patient and determining their chief complaint while the other two groups were tasked with doing a full physical assessment on either adult or pediatric patients.
Before arriving in Cap Haitien, our cohort fundraised for the clinic and the orphanage by selling stethoscope name beads to students and faculty of the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. In just this first clinical day, we saw the impact that the money we raised had on this population. We distributed 50 meals to patients who were malnourished and reported not eating that day. Children with growth delays due to malnourishment were given ensure to promote growth and development.
One of the most memorable patients of the day was a 5-day-old baby who was completely lethargic. It was discovered that the mother had been feeding the baby watered down tea because a witch doctor instructed her not to breastfeed. Therefore, the baby was not receiving the nutrients he required that would have been provided by breast milk. Luckily, we had some formula on hand and were able to teach the mother how to mix the formula and feed the baby properly. Formula is an expensive commodity, so some of the money raised was used to buy her formula to feed the baby.
Towards the end of our day, a mother came in with her two young girls who were diagnosed with scabies and a fungal infection. The fungus was growing over their entire bodies and the younger girl had lesions on her head from the fungus. A classmate and I bathed the girls, scrubbing the younger girl’s head with a toothbrush, and treated them with an antifungal cream. After dressing both girls in new clothes, we held them and gave them lollipops. Both girls had the most beautiful smiles and were happy to be clean. We sent them home with the antifungal treatment and 2 new sets of clean clothes. The impact that our actions had on this population in need was apparent to us after just one day in the clinic and we all were excited for the remainder of our experience.