Session 5 (September 2013) ~ Lisa Roessel, NP.
Clinic Day #1:
It is the first day of clinic and there is a buzz in the air as everyone gets ready for the day. Excitement, anticipation, perhaps a little bit of nervousness. Mental questions: “Which scrubs should I wear today?” , “Do I have my stethoscope? My blood pressure cuff? My notes? My watch?”, “Do we have all the meds?”
But mostly ….“Am I ready for this?”
The team gathers upstairs for one of many meals that will be taken here over the next week. Over breakfast, last minute preparations are made. “I’d like to review blood pressures again!”, “Am I shadowing or working the pharmacy?”
I am enjoying this opportunity to work with students again as so often, in healthcare, we get jaded. When I began my career in nursing, I was smiling, naïve, squeaky cheeked and determined to save the world, one patient at a time. However sadly, over time, the squeaky cheeks become tarnished, the smile fades and the brows begin to furrow. Cynicism breeds cynicism and therefore becomes an infection that spreads across a hospital unit like wildfire. I freely admit that over time, I began to lose my passion and my compassion. 2 essential qualities when caring for patients.
But today, I am thrilled to see the enthusiasm in the students. They’re excited. They’re compassionate. They’re passionate. They want to do a good job. They are varying degrees of skill and experience, some with significant medical backgrounds, some with none. However, the quality that they all share is that they genuinely care about this process and the impact they want to make both here and in the world.
And as a bonus….they all get along and treat each other with respect.
They are the future of health care and that leaves me hopeful.
We load up the bus and head to Pachacutec. Pachacutec is a village not far from our compound and we set up clinic on a hillside which by some measure could be considered prime real estate. Below, there is a view of the ocean and if you look closely, you can see large ships and barges in the distance.
The clinic will be set up in an area used as a soccer (or more accurately futbol) field made of dirt. There are fishnets set up around the perimeter, held up by long poles and I imagine that the fishnets are there to keep the soccer balls in.
3 blue tents are set up emblazoned with the V4P logo on the side and inside each tent is an exam table and several chairs. There will be 2 physicians from Peru along with myself seeing patients.
The pharmacy is a table taped off with areas that say “Antibiotics”, “Vitamins”, etc. and our lab is a table under a tent.
In a separate area, there is a set of tables for taking vital signs and another set for taking medical histories. At each table, there are 3 chairs. One for the patient, one for the medical provider and one for the ever important translator (THANK YOU TRANSLATORS!).
Already, there are patients lined up in the waiting area!
We get set up and then the gun fires (Ok, not literally, but figuratively) and we are off!
The clinic is bustling as everyone works hard to get the patients through their respective stations in an efficient manner.
We are asked to see a patient in the waiting area who feels she is going to faint. In checking her blood pressure it is 220/110 in the RUE and 210/100 in the LUE. Holy hell! We need to get her to the hospital! She is complaining of blurred vision (I bet!) and dizziness (I bet!). She says she feels like her heart is going to explode (I can imagine!). We beg her to go to the hospital (we can take her!), but she refuses. She has not had a good experience with the hospital in the past (“All they do is give me pain medication!”). So, we opt to do our best to treat her here.
What have we got? Captopril. Ok then… let’s roll with it. Over the hour that she is with us, she tells Emily and me all about her daughters, her grandchildren and her history. She is adorable and I feel a sense of privilege to be a even a small part of her life.
We continue to recheck her B/P (thank the Lord it is coming down) and her blood sugar is normal. On discharge, her B/P is 140/90 and she sits up and says she feels ready to go. She cries tears of joy and cannot stop hugging Emily nor me (nor anyone who will let her for that matter!). She wants to adopt us (which I seriously consider taking her up on!) and asks when we will be back. She promises to pray for us every night at 10pm. Her hugs are so tight that you feel consumed. In a good way.
And I am pleasantly reminded why I got into healthcare in the first place.
I know that this is just one of many stories from the day (I’d love it if you have other stories from the day to add in the comments below! )
After a full day of a busy clinic, we load back on the bus and back to Casa Emmanuel where we recap the day. The buzz in the air is a bit different now. Excited, relieved, cheery. Overall, it has been a good day! First day jitters are over and now we can just relax.
Tomorrow will be clinic at the stadium and I think good things are ahead!
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