By Julie Megler
Marmont, HAITI–Once again we found ourselves being tossed around like a bunch of hot potatoes in the back of the Medishare truck. We were accompanying Anna and Theresa, Medishare’s Cuban doctor and nurse, to the clinic in Marmont. We arrived to an overflowing crowd of men, women, and children dressed with the same elegance as they had for church. Many of them had already been waiting for a few hours, some walked up to three hours just to get to the clinic and spend the day waiting. We unloaded from the truck and smiled as we shuffled past a crowd of welcoming, but already exhausted faces, through the door of the clinic. It was a small structure with green painted walls, one large waiting room, three examining rooms and a small back room that served as the pharmacy.
With about a hundred people waiting, we organized ourselves quickly and split into groups assisting Anna and Theresa in consultations, counting pills and mixing solutions in the pharmacy, and doing primary assessments in the hallway, which served as the triage unit.
The first patient seen was a young woman suffering from ascites. She had already been to the hospital for paracentisis, but the cause of her problem still hadn’t been determined. She was in need of an ultrasound for proper diagnosis, but could not afford the trip, nor did she have any remaining family unit to get her to Port-Au-Prince.
A young healthy woman carrying her petite child sat waiting to be assisted. Her baby girl showed obvious signs of malnourishment; she was underweight, small for her age, and struggled to keep her head up. In addition to her weakness her lips and the inside of her mouth were covered in ulcers, likely indicating HIV. The baby was treated for malnutrition, and the mother was advised to return to the clinic for HIV test for both her and the baby.
While sitting in the pharmacy, monotonously counting and organizing pills of all colors, shapes and sizes, the occasional visitor would pop their head up to the barred window. They’d hand over their prescription slips, a torn in half sheet of white paper with a Project Medishare seal stamped on the front, to the pharmacist. The middle aged Haitian woman would briefly halt her current task to gather the medications that were scribbled on the slip, and hand them over to the patients in need.
Exhausted by the day, we gathered our belongings as clouds started to crowd the sky. A calming storm opened up on the ride home as we added a handful of skids in addition to the usual jolting bumps to the now muddy roads.