By Sameer Kapadia
CASSE, Haiti—First day of clinic and I started off in pediatric triage. It was wild. I have never felt as much anxiety taking a blood pressure reading as I did taking the first one of the day.
Let me set the scene: it was really hot, me, another med student, and about 25 Haitian children and their parents crowded around us to watch what was about to be done to them.
I’ve worked in low-resource clinics before and triage always seemed like the most simple and often, least significant part of a person’s care. This is absolutely not the case in Haiti. Triage gives us an indication of distress, malnutrition, anemia, and dehydration. These factors are incredibly important here and are signs of the most prevalent causes of illness. With that said, I have also never been this pressed for time in taking these measurements, appropriately called “vitals.”
My colleagues and I had to develop…a dance, a perfect balance between time, rhythm and specificity. Like any dance worth learning, we tripped and fell for a while until we worked out a system that worked for everyone. In this case, that meant adding another person to our two-person team. By the end of the day, by making this a trio instead of a duet, we had figured out a rhythm that would ensure that our patients got the care they deserved.
This experience showed me that above all, global health demands flexibility, patience, and persistence.
Sameer Kapadia is a first year medical student at Emory Medical School. This is his first trip to Haiti with Project Medishare. Emory Medical School takes a yearly medical trip to Haiti every November.