Keep Adding Stuff

In attempt to free myself from gmail (possible news of interview invites) I decided to keep adding stuff to my resume of life. Staying busy was always a better alternative to feeling as though I was in a ‘waiting period.’ And so I went to Haiti.  Finding time to travel is difficult, as you can never guess when you will be sent that interview invite and how much notice they will give you.  However, if you are flexible and willing to book trips with less advance notice it is well worth it.

I was invited to go to Haiti by a group of doctors working with International Child Care.  After spending a night in Port-Au-Prince, we took a small airplane to Cap-Haitian and drove to a small town with a hospital called Grand Rivier du Nord.  Every morning we woke up, assembled a pharmacy, drove 1-2 hours into the countryside and set up clinic. There were always more patients than we could treat in one day, we had to stop the clinic around 3pm everyday so as to make it back to where we were staying before dark.

I worked in the pharmacy that we brought with us and unpacked at each location. I took prescriptions written by the doctors, dispensed the medications, and gave instructions.  I was able to use my French training to adapt quickly and communicate surprisingly well in Creole.  I saw a plethora of illnesses ranging from burn victims, to goiters, scabies, malaria, HIV, open wounds, pneumonia, and more. It was an eye opening experience not only to the suffering of these people but also to the possibilities and limitations of medical outreach amidst such conditions. We gave vitamins to malnourished pregnant mothers, cloriquin to those with malaria, and antibiotics to those with STD’s and other infections.  Hopefully the infections were cured, unfortunately the vitamins were not a lifetime supply, and we had to advise many of the complicated cases requiring surgery to go to a hospital (doubtful they will actually go and even if they do if that hospital will be equipped to given them the type of care they need).  I was fascinated by the medical cases I was exposed to. I was frustrated by the feeling that our aid was not yet sustainable to the communities. I was inspired by the idea of helping even just one person regain their health. I was away from gmail.

Sally Greenwald

Sally Greenwald is a MD MPH student at a medical school in Boston. She is a dancer, a flutist, a swim lesson instructor, a right fielder in softball, and is conversationally fluent in French. She graduated from Tufts University in 2007 and spent a year as Guest Representative of the Emergency Room and Clinical Researcher of the ED at Stanford Hospital.

Note: This Perspectives Blog post is written by a guest blogger of The opinions expressed on this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dr. Greene or, and as such we are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied. View the license for this post.

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