Isaiah 30:21 - Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Haiti's Health Care

Sometimes the patients travel throughout the night to come to our clinic.  They'll get up at 3 or 4 in the morning and walk down the mountain to be one of the first ones to get a number for the day.  On average the doctor and nurses treat about 50 to 60 patients a day.  Imagine being one of the last numbers and having to wait in the hot, bright sun for your number to be called and then to have to wait longer after seeing the doctor to get your medicine.  I thought waiting an hour for a doctor was a long time but seeking medical care here can be an all day affair.   I guess I took for granted America's health care system, and not saying that it's perfect by any means, but waiting in an air conditioned office for twenty minutes doesn't seem like that big of a deal anymore.  Last week I got to experience Haiti's health care system first hand.
I started feeling bad at bible study Thursday night and mentioned it to the group to pray that I wouldn't spend the weekend in bed sick like I had a couple of weeks before. By the next morning I had a fever and a headache and was developing a cough that would continue over the weekend.  By Monday by fever was worse and it was apparent that taking over the counter drugs were not going to help with anything I had so Elsie decided it was time to go take a trip to the clinic to see the doctor.  We went down the hill and I filled out the information sheet in the reception building and then went next door to get checked out.  I felt bad for walking right in without waiting; after all some of these people had been there at least a good two hours before I came down, but nevertheless I went in and saw Jean Robert, Canaan's doctor.  After a quick exam he diagnosed me with a lung infection and sent me to Pier Payan's hospital for some blood tests. I had been to PP's hospital before visiting one of the ladies that was here in the Fall but hadn't ever needed to use their services.  Going to a hospital here is a little bit different than going to one in the states.  To get the blood work done you knock on the door to hand the lab technician your slip of paper stating what tests need to be done.  The lab here had had both the lab needle pricker and lab result announcer plus three other people waiting to hand the lab person their papers as well as a person waiting to get a test done.  The people running the lab didn't seem to be in any sort of hurry despite the large number of people waiting outside on uncomfortable benches.  After waiting an hour they finally called my name and I went inside for my needle pricking.  I went back outside to wait for the results while Elsie went to visit Dr. Ric who was here from Texas for a week with a medical team.  For what seemed like another hour I sat there waiting for them to call my name for the results.   When they finally did the good news was it wasn't a lung infection with malaria the bad news was it was a pretty bad lung infection from the tests so back to the clinic we went to go get an antibiotic shot.
The shot seemed to help a lot and I perked up enough to actually want to eat some lunch.  For those of you that know me you know that the one way to tell if I'm sick is to put food in front of me and if I don't eat it then you know something's wrong.  Unfortunately the medicine didn't last long and I was back to square one.  I ended up going back to the hospital for a chest xray which showed the infection had spread to pneumonia.  
Haiti has so many people that can't afford the medical care they need.  The blood tests costs less then $5 the xray $10, but to some people here that's a month's salary.  Canaan's clinic, and the doctor and nurses that work there, do an amazing job at serving the community.  Elsie works tirelessly at making sure the patients have what they need.  It's amazing to see God's hand working in the clinic.  For as bad as I felt God definitely had His hand in it all.  I had a doctor at Canaan who could do house calls anytime I needed.  I also had  Dr. Ric check in on me to see how I was doing.  There was a pharmacy full of medicine which everything I needed.   There was also a hospital close by that could do the necessary tests I needed done to help get better.  I was fortunate and blessed.