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From the moment I signed up to come and serve in Jamaica, I had the expectation that it would be an incredibly rich experience for me as a person and as a pediatrician. The feeling of being in a different setting and having different resources is an awareness of what we daily take for granted. You come to learn that even though you are here to help, the experience helps you even more. Here you come to rely in what you have learned and not who you can consult. The contrast of having specialists, to you being the only one the patient can see is an awakening experience. It makes you want to be an even better physician. It’s incredibly gratifying to feel that you are useful and necessary, that our profession is even better than what we thought. To see the happy and grateful faces of the children and parents is priceless. To learn more about how different we can be when we grow up in a different country but at the same time that the values of love, gratitude, kindness, joy don’t change, makes you realize that we are more similar than what we think. I’m humbled by all that Issa trust has done and keeps doing for Jamaica, because many people are blessed but very few give back. I hope that what I have seen and experienced reminds me every day to never stop giving back.  I  can never pay back all that this rotation has done for me but I can keep on putting my grain of help.
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We are thankful for the generous donation of medical supplies valued at US $1,000.00 courtesy of the Panetta family and The Valley Hospital. The donation will help serve approximately 1,000 children during our September 2017 medical mission.

Pictured left to right, Linda Ohnikian, RN
Debbie Panetta, Director of Radiation Oncology
Julie Karcher, Vice President
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Wow, just like that 4 weeks have flown by!  Our experience here has been one that words will not adequately describe. On arrival, we were extremely overwhelmed with the health system, the lack of resources and the handwritten (rarely comprehensible) notes. Slowly but surely, we learned our way around and fell in love with the patients and the support staff. The nurses, doctors and residents were all extremely helpful at explaining how to navigate the system and helping us with day to day tasks.

During our time, we saw the cutest babies on the planet and were exposed to many diagnoses that we simply don’t encounter as frequently in the US such as rheumatic heart disease and myiasis. We also practiced independently and gained a new sense of autonomy. As we leave, we will take with us renewed strength (thanks Ms. Caryn for the massage), increased knowledge and the overwhelming amount of love that has been showered on us since day 1.

  Memorable moments:
  • Telling a mom that her baby’s name (Chloe) was beautiful and asking her where she got it from. Her responding pleasantly, “Thanks! At first I thought it was a white persons name but now I love it!”
  • Having 1 chair in my exam room and telling a young boy to sit down, then his mom walking in and him getting up to allow her to sit, stating, “Have a seat my love!”
  • Hearing patients describe ‘mold germs’ and ‘balloon germs’.
  • Riding in the ambulance to and from work.
  • Walking around the resort and at any given moment, someone walking by and recognizing you and yelling, “HEY DOC!!!!!”
  • Indulging in a beef patty every day after returning from work.
  • Taking our first Noni juice shots (my eyes are still cringing as I write this!)
  • Walking by the talking parrots (before knowing they were talking parrots of course) and hearing them say, “HELLO!” Then looking at each other for confirmation that we both heard the bird speak.
  • Super Bowl party on the beach (man Jamaicans really know how to party 🙂 )
  • Friday lobster nights at Eight Rivers!

Thank you to the people of Jamaica for instilling their trust in us and allowing us to care for their children, Issa Trust for the wonderful opportunity and the staff at Couples Resorts for taking us in and truly making this feel like home for us. One Love and we’ll meet again soon.

 

A little girl with Hand, Foot & Mouth showing off her fancy tongue

Our final dinner with Diane, Ernie and Carrie!

With all our love,

Shanna and Wanda

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So… this is something I never thought of and something you may never see in the USA… Myiasis… Maggot of the head!! We were stationed in Accident & Emergency when the patient was referred from a community clinic to the hospital for treatment and admission. Upon arrival the patient was having head pain and very hesitant to be examined.  While at the community clinic the area was dressed with gauze. Although hesitant the scalp was examined and we were shocked to see a tiny maggot poke its head out of the 1×1 cm wound and then retract back in. After examination labs were drawn, IV placed and patient was then admitted. This is obviously a condition that happens in tropical regions due the screw worm. Just thought I would share Until next time…. Wanda and Shanna
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While in Port Antonio, we saw a baby for the concern of enlarged breasts.  Grandmother had recently started taking care of her so she didn’t know the specifics as to how long they had been enlarged and so forth.  We didn’t think much of her examination because in infants, breast hypertrophy can be related to stimulation from maternal hormones, and can persist for several months in girls. Prior to her leaving, grandmother mentioned that the older sister (who was also present during the visit) also had enlarged breasts.  Her question was, “Can this run in the family?”  On examination of the older sister we noticed a striking difference in the size of her breasts- Unilateral Gynecomastia. A common normal variant in breast development is the unilateral onset of enlargement, which can be misdiagnosed as a tumor.  Unilateral breast development can exist as long as 2 years before the other breast even becomes palpable.  Although pathologic breast conditions are rare in children, we sent our patient for further evaluation of the breast with ultrasound.  Our hope– to identify normal breast tissue and a normal variation of breast development, while ruling out a tumor, cyst or abscess.

– Your friendly neighborhood pediatricians, Shanna and Wanda

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