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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Greetings from Cap Haitien!

Hello all.  I arrived to Haiti on Monday, August 13th and I have been adjusting to life well.  Thus far, I have worked with Dr. Eugene in clinics in Jacquesyl, Tovar, and the Nativite clinic.  It is amazing how far patients come to be seen at these clinics.  There is a combination of preventive care as well as acute and chronic illness management.  I will summarise some of my impressions here and hopefully, by the end of my trip, post some photos.
Jacquesyl:  The long drive to Jacquesyl is always rewarding.  The patient population is mixed, almost 50:50 men to women, with some children sprinkled during the day.  A full range of age groups is seen.  One of the busier clinics we work in, Jacquesyl is another clinic supported by a church.  The clinic has a fully functional lab and pharmacy, where patients are able to make a donation and have their labs drawn and prescriptions filled.  The complaints are varied, but hypertension and pregnancy are very common.
Tovar:  The predominant patient population seems to be women, with several children and occasionally men.  Many patients come to this clinic from far away, even if they have a closer clinic near their home.  The chief complaints are varied here, but hypertension is one that is very common.  Medications are dispensed from the pharmacy, and patients in Tovar seem more able to make contributions for their visit.
A recurring issue in Tovar is that of malnourishment in newborns and children.  There is an organization which donates infant formula to the women of Tovar, but it has not been received yet.  There are mothers who check back every time we are in clinic, hoping that it has arrived.
Nativite:  the area of this clinic seems to be the most poverty-stricken of the clinics to which I have been.  This is easily the busiest of the clinics.  A mixture of patient populations is always present, with plenty of children through out the day. The patients at my first visit were predominantly children, with fever plus cough being the most common chief complaint in the children.  In addition, there were several interesting rashes on the children from a variety of causes.  While there is a lab and pharmacy at this clinic, patients here are less able to pay for labs than at either of the other 2 clinics.  In these cases, we are forced to treat the patient based on clinical presentation without confirming tests.  Close follow up to monitor resolution of symptoms is always made in these cases.
Overall, common supplies that we may take for granted would be beneficial in all of the clinics: tongue depressors, alcohol wipes, hand sanitizer, etc.  I am enjoying the work tremendously, but I wish I spoke Kreyel (Creole).  Until next time,
Nwanneka (Josephine)  (Dr. Josephine Agbowo, Third Year Family Practice resident from California)