After a three-week trip back to the States to spend time with our families and attend medical school interviews, we arrived back in Thomassique just a few weeks ago, and things have been pretty hectic right from the start. A steady stream of Americans made the trip down to the clinic for our first week back. First to come were Ron Burrell and John Rossi. Ron is our main engineer—he designed and maintains our electric and water systems here at St. Joseph’s. He and John, an electrician, installed some beautiful solar panels on our guest house—allowing us to have more power during the day. They also took care of a few other technical problems we have been having around the clinic.
Right on their heels came Dr. Ken Kornetsky, a nephrologist and vice president of Medical Missionaries. He addressed several staff issues and observed the day-to-day functioning of each department at the clinic. We took turns translating for Dr. Ken as he shadowed in the lab, the maternity ward, the pharmacy and with one of the doctors. Over the course of the week, we developed some new systems for reporting broken equipment, supply shortages and other issues that may arise in the clinic. Hopefully this work will make the clinic run more smoothly in the long run.
In addition, we were lucky to see our first surgeries performed here at the clinic! Dr. Snyder, an
orthopedic surgeon, came down along with Sherry Pace, a surgical nurse. During the course
of the week, Dr. Snyder tested the capacity of our burgeoning radiology department (which
recently gained the ability to develop x-rays!) as we looked at fractured forearms, clubbed feet, broken bones that had healed
incorrectly, crushed feet, and more. In the course of translating for these patients, we were also given the opportunity to scrub in on a few surgeries—including one jaw surgery that released an ossified tendon
which had blocked our patient’s jaw from opening fully. Dr. Snyder gave us a crash course in performing sutures (as
demonstrated by Katie in the picture above) along with endless information about the varied cases that came to us.
Basically, we have been running around like crazy ever since we got back. Once the team left last
Sunday, we immediately set ourselves to work organizing a newly-arrived shipment of medications in the depot, putting away
the supplies that arrived on the sea container, meeting with our new community health worker Nicole about the water project,
and following up with our surgical patients.
It was very exciting to see the capabilities of our small clinic in performing surgical procedures! Despite limited resources, we were able to make real strides in assisting patients who otherwise would not have any access to medical care for their orthopedic problems--or would have been forced to turn to sub-par medical care, as we saw from a few of our patients who had been put in poorly-constructed casts, etc. We are looking forward to the surgical trip scheduled for early February, and we now feel that we have a good idea of what to expect and how best to prepare for that week.