By Carly Whalen
Greetings from Montego Bay, Jamaica!
Our group of 15 Nursing Students arrived in Montego Bay on Saturday, January 5th. We were greeted by both warm weather and the warm smile of our driver for the trip, Willie! Wiped from the trip, student nurses and faculty enjoyed a quick dinner and were in bed early.
The next day, we visited the New Testament Church of God in Montego Bay. We were greeted by the joyful faces of the minister and his congregation. Word of our arrival spread like wildfire, and people from all over the surrounding area flocked to the church to have us take their blood pressure, blood sugar, calculate their BMI, and to receive education on diabetes and hypertension. We quickly set up stations for people to flow through, and almost immediately had an efficient and effective way to manage the large volume of people who sought our care. By the end of the day, we had seen 70 members of the community, both adults and children.
In debrief, we talked about seeing many similar health problems that face Americans in this population. We identified that the Jamaicans we encountered were concerned and informed about their own health, asking us very pointed and specific questions about diabetes and hypertension, as well as management of co-morbid conditions. Additionally, we were amazed at the values of patience and generosity exhibited by the community. The wait times to see nurses at the education station were long at some points, and there were times blood sugars or blood pressures needed to be taken twice, yet no one complained about the wait or the extra time. Additionally, the congregation provided us with a local staple known as patties; after a long day of work these were greatly appreciated and received with enthusiasm!
A great start to a week of service!