Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Haiti: Day 3

Finally, Work!

Woke this morning, anticipating the Dean of the the nursing school, Hilda Alcindor, to arrive sometime midday, and that possibly we'd meet with her in the early afternoon. So I woke early, went for a morning jog around Leogane, and exercised in the makeshift gym in the residence. Of course, as soon as I returned, we found that Dean Alcindor had arrived, and that she was awaiting our presence in her home. So, we rushed off to meet Hilda in the morning. The meeting went very well, I thought. She is a very pleasant woman who cares a great deal for her school, and cares a great deal for her students. As to the "iron fistedness" the American workers warned me of, I believe it's misconstrued. I think it's a misinterpretation of her protectiveness of her students and their education. Rightful protectiveness, I believe, from Western paternalistic tendencies. And her students, it is clear, respect and adore her. I can't remember which movie that was which posed the question of whether it is better to be loved than feared...A Bronx Tale, maybe?...anyway, Hilda is most definitely both.

The outcome of the meeting was that we were to begin work immediately....immediately meaning that very moment! She provided us access to one of her prize former pupils, Evans, who upon graduation last year, was kept on staff for clinical and administrative purposes. Evans was to work with us for the day, interview patients with us, help translate, and get us oriented. But first, there was an independent American couple living in Haiti doing humanitarian work who heard we were in town, and had came to the clinic seeking our help. We interviewed them in Hilda's dining room...that went great, actually. Then, it was off to the clinic...

The clinic is another series of tents (not as nice as the hospital, of course) set up on the campus of the the nursing school. Every morning at 8AM, the clinic opens its doors (wooden plank covering a hole in the fence, that is) and sees patients until 5PM. The patients, though, have been in line since about 6AM outside along the gate. The clinic houses a triage area, several primary care clinicians, an OB/GYN dept, X-Ray area, pharmacy, and an area for a dentist. As there is currently no dentist on staff, we commandeered the dentist's office. The whole setup is very efficient, effective, and inventive considering the available resources. The clinic has both indoor and outdoor components. Our office is outdoors. Evans scouted out the area for us, cleared space, and got us set up to see our first patients. Right away, we were busy, and accumulated a quick line. We saw several patients and, with the help of Ali and Evans, it felt like business as usual! The day was long, and hot, of course, but the work was good, and we got a chance to help some people.

After clinic, dinner was at 6, with a staff meeting at 7, where we formally introduced ourselves to the rest of the clinical staff, and told them to send us patients. Then, time to relax and try to see if I can get the funky internet to allow us to watch a live stream of the NCAA basketball championship on cbssports.com! Come on, Butler!

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