Today was a typical day in the clinic. I will attempt to describe exactly what that means in Haiti at St Vincents. The teachers bring the kids down to the clinic by class, which means we get 10-15 deaf kids or 10-15 blind kids at a time. Today Sherye, our sign language interpreter, went to the dentist with many of the deaf kids, so we saw a lot of children who were blind or with multiple handicaps. They see Vickie first to have their name printed on a card, then see John, Ashley, Mimi or Sienna to have their vital signs and hemoglobin checked (this involves a fingerstick. Imagine 15 blind children getting their finger stuck). This happens on a “stage” in the school courtyard, mercifully under a tarp to block the piercing sun. The kids are entertained while waiting, by creative Americans dancing or singing or doing whatever it takes to keep 15 five year olds in one spot for 45 minutes to an hour.
Then the children come see the doctor, which on this trip is me or Dr Judy, a St Jude’s pediatrician. Assisting me are Hana, Sonya’s daughter, sometimes Sonya and various Kreyol interpreters including JoJo and a wonderful young man named Lucson. The docs are in the school library, which is about a 20×15 room now containing all these folks plus 3-4 children waiting to be seen. We have to post a guard at the door to keep out the curious, otherwise that number swells quickly to over a dozen. The fan runs as long as the power holds out, and it was amazingly cool today, thanks be to God.
At one point Drew was holding a boy who clung to him for dear life. I managed to listen to his heart and lungs, but No Go attempting to look inside his ears! Another child started screaming as soon as he saw John, and didn’t stop the entire time he went through the clinic. Dr Judy spoke to him and he quieted for 30 seconds, then started up again. Meanwhile I was trying to remove something green from one child’s ear, which turned out to be a rubber band fragment. Mercifully that child did not cry! A game of floor soccer started among a circle of children sitting on the floor with Ashley. I was singing to distract the child while I was working on removing the rubber band. And then classes let out for recess, which added to the din coming through the open window.
So there you have it, a typical pediatric clinic. Except we had a child with partially treated cleft palate, an 8 year old with high blood pressure, and three kids with newly found heart murmurs.
Not bad for a days work!