Sunday, August 19, 2007

Vanessa Journal 4

My time in Roatan is coming to an end, and I can honestly say that I’m going to miss it! My fourth week here was pretty busy. Most of the diagnoses at clinic were skin conditions, specifically scabies and impetigo. Viral syndrome, diarrhea and fever were also common. There were also some familiar faces at clinic. The mother who had been feeding her baby rice mixed with water returned to the RVPC, claiming that her baby was still having diarrhea. Dr. Rhee explained that the baby may have a milk protein allergy, and gave the mother a different, simpler formula to feed him. Dr. Dunlop gave a referral to admit a little boy overnight at the hospital because of his difficulty breathing and asthma.

Peggy and Dr. Patrick arranged to have a medical brigade in La Colonia this week. Everything was set up at the church and there was a great turnout! Along with Peggy and Dr. Patrick came Dr. Rhee, Dr. Dunlop, Bea and Joe (two physicians assistants), Kathy (a nurse) and her daughter Megan, Igor and David (two of Peggy’s volunteers) and myself. I spent most of the time with Dr. Rhee and Dr. Dunlop, helping them and translating for them. Most of the patients we saw had skin conditions, including scabies and impetigo. This was expected because of the lack of running water in La Colonia. Medication for parasites was given to many of the patients as well. At one point, I found myself surrounded by about ten cute kids asking for meds against “lombrices.” Even after the doctors saw them, the children stayed close by and were very excited to have their picture taken!

Also this week, I got certified in scuba diving with Igor and Molly! We did four dives and we are planning to do another one soon with Dr. Rhee. We’ve spent time at West Bay Beach. We are also planning to do the canopy tours and the dolphin encounter at Anthony’s Key. We said our goodbyes to Dr. Dunlop, who left today back to the States. I’m sad to see him go – he was very informative and a pleasure to be around at clinic. Tomorrow I’ll be picking up Edwin, the next intern, from the airport. I’ll be training him the next few days and showing him around the island.
I can’t believe my time is almost up in Roatan! This has been one of the best experiences I’ve ever had and I’ve met so many great people to stay in touch with! I’m also going to miss the island lifestyle once I’m back to school in L.A. One thing is for sure – I definitely plan on coming back as soon as I can!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Vanessa Journal 3

My third week has gone by incredibly fast. This week, the Minister of Health from Tegucigalpa, Dr. Jenny Meza, visited the RVPC. Along with her came Dr. Cibeles (Epidemiologist), Dr. Cruz (the director of the Hospital), and Lic. Galindo (Chief manager of the Hospital). Although they stopped by for only a few minutes, there was enough time to capture a picture of them with Dr. Welcome, Dr. Rhee and Dr. Dunlop.

There were also several memorable cases this week at clinic. A little boy came in with what seemed like an abscess of pus inside his mouth. He was referred to the dentist here at the Public Hospital, but the dentist claimed that he tried to drain it and there was no liquid inside. Dr. Dunlop gave the little boy’s mother a prescription for antibiotics, and instructed her to return with her son to the clinic in a few days if there was no improvement. They returned a few days later, and it turns out the antibiotics had not helped. Dr. Welcome made a referral for them to travel to Tegucigalpa, where a different doctor could examine the hard palate mass. Dr. Rhee referred a different patient, a 10-month-old baby, to La Ceiba due to the baby’s delayed development. Dr. Rhee explained that among other things, the baby girl could not sit up on her own, something that a 10-month-old should be able to do. The most common diagnoses this week were fever, viral syndrome, diarrhea, impetigo and possible parasites. A mother brought her month-old baby, saying that she had been not been able to feed the baby milk the past three days because of the diarrhea that it caused. Instead, she had been feeding the baby ground rice mixed with water. Dr. Rhee stressed that the baby needs to be fed milk, not rice and water. After examining the baby, Dr. Rhee provided the mother with a different type of formula, Similac, to feed the baby. One day this week, Dr. Dunlop allowed me to do a urinalysis with his help. I accompanied Dr. Welcome, Dr. Rhee and Dr. Dunlop to hear a conference about brain lesions and hemorrhages. Dr. Welcome and I have also been planning on giving a talk to parents on the psychosocial development of teenagers.

Aside from clinic, I’ve continued to teach English. New volunteers at Peggy’s clinic also arrived this week: David, a pre-med student from Canada, and Igor, a fourth-year medical student at Vanderbilt. We all went to the crab races this week, dinner in West End, and I went to West Bay Beach yesterday. We are finally starting our scuba diving certification tomorrow!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Vanessa Journal 2

My second week in Roatan began with the arrival of New York’s Dr. John Dunlop to clinic. This week I’ve been getting to clinic slightly earlier. This gives me an early start on triage, which I’ve found to be especially helpful now that there are three doctors seeing patients and the pace has picked up. It also gives me more time to survey patients after they’ve seen Dr. Welcome, Dr. Rhee or Dr. Dunlop.

One day this week, a little girl with a heart murmur came to the clinic with her mother. Dr. Dunlop explained exactly to me what a heart murmur is and then allowed me to hear for myself. First, he gave me the stethoscope and told me to listen to my own heartbeat, followed by his. After having listened to two “regular” heartbeats, he brought me into the room with the little girl and asked her mother if it was alright for me to listen to her daughter’s heartbeat. I was given the chance to listen to her heartbeat, a distinct sound that was very different from the heartbeats I had just heard. Another day this week, a mother came in complaining that her daughter was eating dirt. After Dr. Dunlop examined the little girl, he explained to me that eating dirt if often a symptom of iron deficiency. Also at clinic this week, a mother brought in her 9-day-old baby for fever. After taking the baby’s temperature, which was 101.2 degrees, Dr. Rhee ordered that the baby be rushed to the ER. He let me accompany him as he walked the mother with her baby to the ER and later explained the dangers of fever in newborns.

After clinic on Wednesday, the three doctors and myself made our way to the daycare I’ve been volunteering at in Coxen Hole. The doctors came to look at the children, specifically those that were sick or had any conditions at the time. There ended up being three children with skin conditions. The doctors examined the children and then delivered the extra medicine they had brought for the daycare. They wrote down the names of each on a piece of paper with their use, so that the teachers would know in the future. These ranged from hydrocortisone creams to cough suppressants to fever reducers.

I’ve really been enjoying my time at clinic. It’s been especially rewarding to be able to speak to patients directly. A mother came in to clinic this week, and right away I recognized her from a few days earlier, when she had brought in her first child. She asked me how long I was going to be in Roatan and at the clinic. After I explained to her that I would be here until the end of August, she seemed genuinely disappointed and asked when I was coming back. I told her that I had to go back to school in August, but that I would try to come back when there was time. This conversation made me feel welcome and it made me feel like I was making a difference to someone.

Aside from clinic and daycare, I started teaching Maria Cristina English. We met twice this week, and she is putting great effort into learning the language. We started off with useful phrases, simply vocabulary, etc. After just two days, she can introduce herself and tell me a little about herself, including where she is from and how old she is.

On my free time, I’ve been spending time with the other volunteers. We went to the crab races on Thursday, which raise money for the schools here in Roatan. The winner gets to choose what to do with his or her half of the prize, but everyone usually gives their part to the schools. My crab (#28) came in first place! I was given a sash and certificate, and I of course gave the part I won to the schools. We’ve gone to dinner and spent time in West End. This coming week I’ll be looking into the canopy tours and diving.

Many of the other volunteers left this week. They included Krista, Raquel, Diana and Asha. I thought I would feel lonely without them all here, but more people have arrived. When we went to drop Asha off at the airport today, we picked up Dr. Patrick and two physician assistants that have come to volunteer. Peggy also mentioned that two more volunteers will be arriving tomorrow.