Friday, August 13, 2010

The Chabin Clinic

Yesterday, Haiti Village Health Clinic in Chabin had its final day open for the month of August. In total, our clinic saw 87 timoun (children), 35 granmoun (elderly), 17 fanm ansent (pregnant women) and 151 patients from the general public, totalling 191 visitors.

I really enjoyed my time at the Chabin clinic over the past week and a half. I got some great experience taking vitals, working in the lab and pharmacy, shadowing doctors and medical students, and even had the chance to dress a wound for a lovely Haitian gentleman who had spent some time learning English in Palm Springs, Florida, while training to become a chef. We also saw a lot of adorable babies, timid little children, hardworking parents and grandparents over the course of our clinic. One of our most memorable patients for me, however, was the last patient we saw on the last day of the clinic. It was a mother who had come in with two of her daughters to see our medical staff. Her two daughter were adorable, both wearing frilly pink and white dresses with bows and braids in their hair. As for the mother, she seemed tired and overworked, like she had put in a lot of hard, long days throughout her life. Through a series of questioning and examinations, Catherine and Jude, one of the nurses from Cavalry Chapel, concluded that the mother was suffering from a number of chronic conditions for which we thankfully had most of the necessary medications. She ended up going home with 15 different medications for herself and several for each of her children as well. Although of clinic is only equipped for primary care, this particular case, for me, showed the necessity for something as basic as primary care in an area like Chabin. I’m very glad that we were able to provide this woman and her children with medications that will make their lives at least a little bit easier.

We had some help during our time in Chabin from an awesome team of volunteers who are here in Haiti with Calvary Chapel. Without them, our clinic would not have experienced the success that it did. Their group offered us some nurses, students, a physiotherapist and a pharmacist who were all wonderful to work with. Calvary Chapel also provided us with the tent we used for the clinic, a generator to give us power, and they built all the tables and benches we used to sit and see patients. A big thanks to all those at Calvary Chapel from HVH!

The last day at the clinic ended up being one of the most emotional days for me in Haiti so far. After we were done seeing patients, the other students and I stayed behind to help some of the Cavalry Chapel volunteers disassemble the tent. While we waited for them to arrive, we got to spend some quality time with the children who hang around our clinic every day and help us to pack up. Together, we sang songs, laughed and played throughout the afternoon. I’d managed to pick up enough basic Creole to ask children their names and ages and, along with the help of some older, French-speaking kids as translators, was able to get to know some of them a little bit better. When the other volunteers arrived, we deflated the tent, transforming it into a jumping playground for the kids, which was heart-warming to watch. We then packed the tent into the truck and began loading up the furniture, during which time it began to rain slightly. One of my favourite little boys, Nixon, started tugging on our shirts, saying something in Creole we didn’t understand. We were eventually explained that he was trying to get us to go in the truck so we wouldn’t get wet, which was just about the cutest thing I had ever heard. One of the other volunteers then mentioned that a common voodoo belief was that getting wet from the rain is what causes illness and, seeing the kids trying to cover their heads, we decided to shield their heads with our hands, eventually creating a little house for our limbs which all the children huddled under. It was adorable! Eventually however, after a lot of hugs, included a nice big squeeze from Nixon, we unfortunately had to leave Chabin. As the truck drove off with the children waving us goodbye, I couldn’t help but shed some tears because I immediately began to miss their smiling faces.

Fortunately, the clinic will be opening again next month, and eventually, HVH is hoping to build a permanent clinic in its location so that the people of Chabin can have regular access to it. I’m sure future clinic teams can look forward to having the chance to meet our awesome little helpers who have I feel so fortunate to have met and will never forget.

Next week, I’m planning to pay a visit to HVH’s permanent clinic which has been established up north in Bod Me Limbe. I’m excited to see how the more permanent clinic is run and what kind of medical issues they encounter on a regular basis, so more updates to come.

Madelin Rocheleau