By Jennifer Browning
After turning off of National Road #3, the SUVs tossed, tumbled and slid across the mud caked roads saturated after the downpour the previous night.
The caravan halted just a few miles down. The lead truck with all of the medications was stuck.
“My primary concern was is there another route or how are we going to get to the clinic,” William Moore, a second year MPH student from Morehouse School of Medicine said. “We prepared so much this morning to leave earlier than before to assure that we could provide as much as we could for today’s clinic, when we saw this obstacle, I thought we weren’t going to be able to service as many people as we originally planned.”
With the road impassable, once the lead truck made its way out of the mud, Project Medishare staff worked out an alternative location which ended up being the property and house of a resident in the community. A messenger was sent down to the original clinic location to tell those waiting to be see, that the location had changed. Patients walked 45 minutes to get to the alternative location.
“It just impresses upon me how people here make such personal sacrifice traveling in the heat, traveling in the mud, being able to walk carrying their kids long distances to get to the mobile clinic location,” Bande Mangaliso Virgil, a pediatric resident from Morehouse Medical School said. “It says how much faith they have in us as physicians and that is humbling. They walk one, two hours or maybe even a half a day to receive healthcare.”
Erica Shantha, second year medical student at Morehouse School of Medicine, agreed.
“I thought it was great. A local allowed us to improvise and basically take over their home and land to do today’s clinic,” Erica said. “I thought it was amazing how the people could
come there so fast. It seemed to take them 15 minutes to get word that the clinic had moved.”
Normally for the mobile clinics, Project Medishare operates out of a local school house or a church. This provides separate rooms for the various specialties. Today, the whole clinic operated under a sprawling Mango tree and the Obstetrics and Gynecology clinic operated in the back of an SUV to offer some sort of privacy.
“You do what you have to do to get the job done, and that was the only private secure place we had to see our women, so we made it work,” Dr. Tish Titus, assistant professor at Emory University School of Medicine. “The women were so happy to come lay in the truck and listen to the sound of their babies on the portable doppler.”
The Morehouse group were happy that today’s mobile clinic could continue.
“After we found we were going to be able to do the clinic, it felt extremely productive for the very last day,” William said, “because we were able to not only finish seeing pediatric patients, but we also assisted with adult medicine to ensure that all of those waiting could be seen today.”
The mobile clinic team provided care for over 200 patients today. In addition to the OB/GYN clinic, around the tree there was triage, voluntary HIV testing, pediatric clinic, adult clinic, vision/ophthalmology, and a pharmacy for patients to pick up their prescriptions.
Erica noted the importance of Project Medishare’s community health program and how it serves those living in the most far our rural regions of Haiti’s Central Plateau.
“The services Project Medishare provides are needed here,” Erica said. “Today we saw a girl who may not have survived if the clinic had not come to the location. It is great that Project Medishare is out here providing medical care and providing education regarding their healthcare. It is definitely needed, and this effort is definitely a step in the right direction. If Project Medishare wasn’t her, I don’t know what else would be.”
William feels that while there is a lot of work still to be done in Haiti, this trip reminded him of why he returned.This is William’s second year traveling to Haiti with Morehouse as part of Project Medishare’s University Partnership Program
“It was a pleasant reminder of the reason I was here,” William said, “it was refreshing because of the previous work last year. Working here with the Project Medishare local staff reminds me of the existence of humanity in what many view as a constant time of turmoil.”