I’m sure that you are eager to learn about how our first day went at the clinic. Well, you are in luck!
We arrived at 6:45am, ate breakfast there, and then set out to finish setting up (moving chairs, finding supplies) and find our stations. We were Team IWA, reporting for duty.
I’ll give you a virtual “tour” so that you can understand the symphony of patient processing that was accomplished. After the patients waited in line, they were welcomed by the registration staff, which was assisted by some of the local monks. There they got a form, a number, and were then led to the education area. At education, they learned about dental and body hygiene and received a toothbrush.
Next, they moved to the Triage and Vitals stations, where the volunteers gently tested them, took their weight, and got general information about their ailments. The patients were then escorted to the waiting areas to be seen by a doctor. Each consultation station consisted of a doctor and an interpreter and a roving volunteer escort. We saw patients with a myriad of ailments ranging from abdominal pain to cataracts. There were men, women, children, and monks as well. Here’s a picture of Jeff helping a local monk.
I could tell that many of these people had been living with their pain and illnesses for a very long time. Every single one was gracious and a wonderful patient. The children were curious and alert – and sometimes frightened as most children are when they go to the doctor. This didn’t seem to bother their parents – as they were thankful for any help.
Once they were evaluated, we would escort them either to pharmacy, back to vitals for more tests, or to another specialty for a referral (such as mental health, dental, or pre-op). Many of them would end their journey with a treatment and the vitamins from IWA.
Of course others needed surgery for things such as hernias and other operations that could safely be done in the conditions we were working in. We saw many people come in with goiters and other growths that they had had for a long time. Unfortunately, due to the poor hygiene in these areas, we would be putting these patients at risk if we were to operate, as they would most certainly get a dangerous infection and then be worse off. As I’m sure that you can imagine, there is no feeling worse in the world than having to tell someone that you cannot help them. I tried to acknowledge this feeling and focus on what we could do.
The whole team worked incredibly hard and we are ever so grateful that we are able to be here to help. There is so much more to tell, so stay tuned! We’re about to embark on Day Two…