Monday, August 13, 2012

Medical / Clinic days

The last 4 days of the trip were clinic days. The first day we visited a different indigenous community and set up a clinic in their gathering place/church. This was a really cool experience because they would describe their medical problems in such a different way than we are used to. Like to say they were having pain somewhere they would sometimes describe it as that body part "falling asleep." They used a lot of metaphors. It was kind of confusing at first to understand what was wrong with them, but with patience we were able to figure it out. Again we had to have 2 translators, one from their indigenous language and another into Spanish which made understanding the metaphors even more difficult. Here we saw a lot of parasites, scabies, and I got to even see my first indirect inguinal hernia. It was on a man and he even allowed me to exam him which apparently was a big deal for this community because it has taken them a while to get warmed up to Global Brigades. That made me feel good that I made him feel comfortable and the whole day was a success in terms of medical care and building a stronger relationship with this community.

The last 3 days we went to another Latin community and set up the clinic in their school. This was a little bit easier because they all spoke Spanish and were more accustomed to medical care and our medical terms (I think they have clinics here every couple of weeks). Dr. Lyons, one of the pediatric physicians with us, showed me how to do a newborn exam which was really exciting for me. Again we saw a lot of parasites and scabies on the kids. We also saw 2 cases of Leishmaniasis. Before we got to Panama Dr. Michelfelder who has done like 16 trips like this had us all pick common diseases in the area and do just a short presentation on them so we could know what to look for. I wasn't too excited to be doing work the day after school ended, but really this was SO helpful. Not only was it a good review, but we also had a Panamanian doctor so he was able to tell us if the statistics we found were actually relevant in his practice and what he knew. That was one of my favorite parts of the trip as well.

The clinics worked kind of like an assembly line... vitals, medical clinic, dental clinic, and pharmacy. Each medical student got a chance to do all of them except dental unless they wanted to go shadow. The physicians from Loyola were so amazing in the medical clinic and took the time to show Becca Ludwig and I (the two students from SLU) how to listen to heart and lungs, exam the eyes, ears, and throat, and random other exams that the other students already knew how to do. They also would take the time to explain anything that we saw that we had questions and pushed us to make our exam skills better. The first time I heard wheezing and was right I was so excited! It felt like I was a 3rd year already telling them what I thought we should do for the patient... sometimes I was right and obviously a lot of times I was wrong but it was such good practice and in a different country with different diseases! I learned how to take out stitches and I even took a cockroach out of a man's ear! So cool.

We brought over $10,000 worth of meds... mostly parasite meds and vitamins because every patient received those when they went through the pharmacy as well as soap, shampoo/conditioner, and a toothbrush/toothpaste.

The first day we had to sort through all of the meds to be able to divide and distribute at the clinics.

Dr. Michelfelder brought a bunch of balloons for us to blow up in the morning and hand out to the kids as we walked out the bus. It kind of felt like we were a circus but the kids loved it and it made for a good first impression!

She liked the balloons!

The outside of the school.

Having so much fun in clinic!

My favorite picture... I think she liked me. Julie (Loyola) would translate while I just played with the baby/wrote notes and came up with questions to ask.

The end of our first day of clinic... tired but feeling good!

Sorting through meds/making labels after the first day.

The pharmacy transported by donated suitcases. We divided them up by class of drugs and it actually worked really well.

Dr. Michelfelder was such a good teacher.

We would see them as families and they usually were around 5-6 people we would see at once starting with the youngest and working up to the oldest.

Obsessed with this little girl. She didn't want to give me a high five because I would tickle her.

Teaching us the neuro exam.

Becca (SLU) working with Tom (Loyola) who organized most of the trip. We had 4 stations of a table and chairs and our gloves and other supplies on the table. We switched off working in vitals and pharmacy and working with each other.

Med students would see the family first and then present to the physician who would then come check up on diagnoses/plan.

Dr. Lyons, the pediatric physician working the a newborn.

Ginny (second to the left) was an amazing translator. A lot of our translators were students also who were just really good at Spanish... not me though I did get better towards the end.

Matt (Loyola) teaching a kid how to use the stethoscope.

Our clinic/stations.

This was such an amazing part of our trip. At the end of our 4th clinic day all of the girls in the group met with some of the teenagers from the Latin community and talked to them about women's health issues. The girls ranged from 12-18 years old so we talked about the menstrual cycle and pregnancy. We also made it kind of an empowerment talk and just basically told them that they can do whatever they want to and shared our stories. The girls were shy at first but then we started talking about what they wanted to be when they grew up and they opened up. I really felt like I was making a difference by talking to and empowering these girls. Definitely a great memory from the trip.

Saying goodbye on the last day. I look so legit with my stethoscope and scrubs.

View from the school... this never gets old.

The whole group.

I seriously loved getting to know each and every one of these people and working with them. Everyone was dedicated, caring, and hard working and together we were able to see over 400 patients during the clinics... people who can't afford and don't have very much access to healthcare, nothing like what we are used to here. The physicians were great teachers and I loved getting to know people from other medical schools... that is definitely what made this trip so unique and so great. This trip definitely sparked my interest in going on more medical trips abroad... it is a different experience but the reward is so worth it. I will definitely remember this and take the lessons I learned from it for the rest of my life.


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