Meaningful Medicine

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The Power of Medicine

  Wow! Today was incredibly busy! We treated the mayor’s employees and other people from the nearby community from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. but it felt like we had been seeing people for three days straight without a break to regroup. The morning started out fine because we had a system of numbering each person’s card that had their name, age, and vitals…but after 20 minutes or so, there was a bottleneck of people waiting in line to see Dr. Bosworth; we had to think of another strategy because the situation was becoming out of control with people working their way ahead in the “line” and crowding the medicine area. With a smaller team, it was simple for us to recognize the situation and—with the help of a few of the mayor’s workers who spoke English—reorganize our clinic. Today’s clinic was a great location because there were office cubicle type rooms for us girls and a room for Dr. Bosworth and the translator. In one area, we had Mandy and Taylor checking the vitals—temperature, blood pressure, and pulse—as well as dispensing eye drops, blood pressure pills, and vitamins. If a person had a serious fever or health issue, they were shuttled into the separate room one-by-one to meet with Dr. Bosworth. After the patients visited with Dr. Bosworth, they were given a slip of paper that had what other medications they needed. This is where I came into play. I was in another room with all the medications and was in charge of getting individual dosages prepared for quick dispensing. Having me in a totally different room from both the initial health screeners and doctor was extremely beneficial in “calming the storm” of people because the patients would only see me—and all the available medicine—after they were treated with the basics or saw the doctor. Dr. Bosworth told us that sometimes the biggest problem with big clinics is that once people see the medications we have, they will often “fake” their symptoms to receive a certain prescription.

            The range of symptoms and health problems that we came across today were unbelievable. We saw skin infections, super high blood pressure, anemia, diabetes, fungal infections, acid reflux, and indigestion. There was one very unique case: a man had a severe open wound infection in his armpit. When he was asked what caused the infection, he first told Dr. Bosworth and Michael that it was his deodorant. Then he said it was a “magical” cause like voodoo. It is amazing to see how many people will come to a doctor after a problem has progressed significantly but will not take the preventive steps early on—for instance, many people simply needed to exercise more.

            Another awesome part of today was when our other translators and helpers would come around and thank us for coming in. One of the translators, Tony, would always compliment me on my Creole even though I only knew how to say “Good morning/afternoon,” “Take one pill every day,” and “Thank you.” You could tell that all the English-speaking employees involved in our clinic were grateful for our help because they would offer to assist in translating or monitor the crowd control. In addition, although none of us college girls are “official” doctors, everyone treated us as if we were because they knew we were doing our best to treat their health needs.
            One important tidbit that I learned today was that the package inserts on prescription bottles are WAY more useful than you might think. A limited number of ZipLock bags only get you so far in dispensing individual prescriptions and when you have huge numbers of people coming through the clinic, you have to use your imagination in packaging their medicines. Tomorrow is going to be another hectic day because we are setting up our clinic at a large public school that has close to 1,000 students. We have our work cut out for us, but I think—at this point—we are absolutely ready to dive in and rise to the occasion.