Thursday, July 8, 2010

Volunteer Nursing in Haiti

(Photos: Top - Latrine at Terrain Acra; Middle/Top - Patient Consultation Area; Middle - Clinic Staff Training; Middle/Bottom - Medical staff on a home visit in Terrain Acra; Bottom: The clinic staff at Terrain Acra)

I received this message and these photos today from Ann Ferguson, a nurse who spent 2.5 weeks volunteering at ARC's clinic at Terrain Acra in Port-au-Prince.

I am writing this during my last day as a medical volunteer in the clinic run by ARC at Terrain Acra. The last 2 and ½ weeks have been both humbling and awe inspiring – and it has been a privilege to be a part of the clinic staff.

The medical clinic at Terrain Acra was first established in February of 2010 to provide primary care for the people in the camp. The clinic has evolved into a busy primary care clinic which serves people from within the camp – and others who live outside the camp and choose to come there for care.

In three large tents, with no electricity or running water, in extreme heat and on plastic covered dirt floors, the medical clinic at Terrain Acra sees over 120 patients per day. It is hoped that in the coming weeks and months, a new tent can be obtained to move pharmacy activity and supplies, a refrigeration system can be achieved so that a vaccine campaign can be established, and a mental health program will begin in earnest.

The systems of care have been developed through a combined effort of medical volunteers, and the Haitian medical and general clinic staff. Clinic is open 6 days a week. Additionally, the medical team has established a system of home visits within the camp to insure that individuals in need of additional follow up care receive those services. Mobile clinics have also been established in three communities near Terrain Acra. This mobile clinic activity provides the only care to residents of very hard hit areas of the city.

Prenatal visits have ranged form 78-83 per month within the camp. Patients present for wound care daily: puncture wounds, umbilical cord care, infections, cuts, scrapes, occupational injuries and more. A triage system allows for the very young, the elderly, and the sickest to be seen first. Malaria, typhoid, prenatal care, dehydration, stress related conditions, skin infections and others are seen daily. Pharmacy and lab services are available on site. Referrals are made as needed to local specialists and hospitals. No one is turned away.

I am amazed at the level of professionalism in the clinic staff. Despite working in tents with a heat index of over 95, dirt showing through the plastic floors, some of them living in these tents nearby, they treat their patients with respect and conduct themselves with dignity and professionalism.


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