I run clinic every Thursday at the Surgery Center on Delmas 24. Technically, I'm working in the adjacent school, using 3 classrooms (an exam room, a pharmacy, and a bandage room) but when school starts in 10 days, I will be relocating to the first floor of the actual Surgery Center. I generally dislike stationary clinics but Clinic 24 has been a total success thanks to my team of dedicated youngsters.
Caroline is 18 years old and is a student at the school. She wants to study nursing after she graduates this summer, so she has been coming to clinic. I have her work alongside me, preparing bags of medications as I work. By now, she can predict which med I will want for which complaint (ie ibuprofen for lower back pain, cipro for UTIs, bactrim for infant diarrhea etc) and she is rarely wrong. I work much better having another pair of hands counting pills for me.
Blondy gets on my nerves a bit because he doesn't follow directions particularly well, but I don't want to kick him out. So he hangs out, helping in the pharmacy or with making patient cards as patients line up.
Josilien is usually my blood pressure assistant, checking BPs on all the adult patients before they get to me. When he can't come, he sends his beautiful girlfriend, Ruth, to replace him. I love being handed a card and immediately knowing a patient's blood pressure so we can have the "LESS SALT" talk before the patient starts listing his million complaints.
Jean Marc and Obed, aka Tweddledee and Tweddledum, are my silent shadows. They are brothers, age 15 and 13, who live a mile from my house. Before the earthquake, they used to hang out with the St Joe's boys and they would frequently come begging for food at my door. Since the quake, they have asked me to allow them to come along when I go out to work. So for the past 6 weeks, they have gone almost everywhere with me. They are painfully shy, even after all that time. I tease them, talk to them, question them, tell funny stories, but all I can get out of them is one word answers and embarrassed laughter. I don't get it.
At clinic, they bag my most common meds for me: tylenol, antacids, and vitamins. They also act as my photographers (until I get angry at how many photos they are taking of themselves) and sometimes help with card making.
Lucson is my right hand man. He graduated from the school a couple years ago but still helps out with the church and clinics. Since the first day, he has been fully responsible for the card writing, patient triage, and crowd control. If extra patients show up with prescriptions to be filled, he filters them before getting me. If more patients come than our daily quota, he decides if they need to be seen or if they can wait till next week. When I don't have an American assistant such as my friend Lauren to do dressing changes Lucson takes that task on as well. He does home visits for me on patients that I am particularly concerned about. He visits Ois weekly and does whatever extra errands I need done such as transporting patients to the hospital or taking a mom and child for passport photos for a medical visa.
Sendhi is a 19 year old graduate from the school. She helps with bandage changes, patient triage, bagging meds for me, and keeping the boys under control. She is exceptionally good at understanding the patients that I cannot understand. She and Caroline are learning very quickly - it is truly a joy to watch.
And then there's me. I see patients, treating them for every day Haiti-ness: headaches, hypertension, back pain, reflux, malaria, diarrhea, scabies, and vaginal infections. I still see some quake-related injuries as well as a lot of insomnia, but otherwise, it's like prequake days.
My Delmas 24 crew make Thursdays my favorite day of the week. We laugh a lot while we work and we often spend 30 minutes just talking when clinic is over. I count them my friends, and thanks to generous donations from friends and family in the States, I can also count them my employees. I am able to pay them all a small salary for the work that they are doing with me and I hope that next year, we will be able to continue and expand this newly hatched community clinic.