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Today was another clinic day in Port Maria (roughly 30 minute drive). It seemed slower but that was because there was a heart screening going on at the same time. This made the patients flow more steady instead of a huge rush.
I saw 19 patients today.
Found out that they don’t carry Claritin/Loratadine in the pharmacy (I’ve probably written 10 scripts for it and today was the first time someone came back in to tell me the pharmacy didn’t carry it).
The very last patient I saw was a bit frustrating. She had viral pharyngitis. I spent awhile explaining the difference between a virus and bacteria and how we do not treat viruses with antibiotics. Mom and 12 year old seemed ok with this but then they came out and told the lady that had asked me to see them about my diagnosis/treatment plan. I had to leave my room to walk to the pharmacy. When I came back they had taken the chart (which they call a docket) and put her in line to see the nurse practitioner!
This is a common battle we fight in the US as well. Viruses are not treated with antibiotics but families sometimes get upset when you explain this. Studies have supposedly shown that if the doctor explains the nature of the illness that they family is ok with not getting a prescription. I have not found this to be very true (here or at home). Also, we are not supposed to give cough and cold medicine to anyone under the age of 6 years. I had a mother last week tell me that she wanted a prescription for their local cold medicine for her 9 month old baby. I explained why we don’t give the medicine (risk is greater than benefit). She demanded 2 more times for me to write it and I finally had to say “you can leave now because I will not write you a prescription.”
Please don’t get me wrong. The vast majority of my patient encounters are pleasant and the families accept what I tell them. I just needed to vent about those.
Today I admitted a child to the Annotto Bay hospital. I hope he is still there on Wednesday when I do hospital rounds there. He is not growing and developing and has frequent infections (this is not a good combination).
Tip of the day: Don’t travel with black luggage.
Time for Jamaican fun:
They report time like this: 1 day= 1/7, 1 week = 1/52, 1 month = 1/12
$1 US = $84 Jamaican
Their version of Sprite is called Ting
Kids here do not think of Santa Claus like we do. He is a figure at Christmas but he doesn’t come down the chimney (they don’t have them) and bring all of the presents. He rides on a donkey that pulls a cart with some toys in it. On Christmas Eve kids dress up in their finest clothing and walk around the town with their parents. They buy toys and candy that night as their gifts.
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Friday was my first trip to Port Antonio. As with any first day it started a bit rocky. I called the day before and confirmed a driver, apparently the staff knew I was coming but nobody told the driver 🙁 I finally made it to the clinic around 1:30 and there was a whole waiting room of babies. There were 5 scheduled but word spread and a few extras showed up (I think there were only about 10 total but the waiting area seemed packed). After I saw clinic patients they took me to the inpatient area where I saw the 3 admitted babies, all 3 wks or younger. I actually had a wonderful day it just started late. My driver was really nice and he navigated the windy, pothole stricken road with grace. The nurse that helped during the clinic was fantastic. She actually stayed in the room with me to learn and to help with any language issues (we didn’t have any).
Packing tip: Harriet Lane!!! I am using it frequently (for those that don’t know it is just a reference text that fits in your pocket, well your very large pocket).
I had been told that flexibility is needed to do well at mission work. I understand what they mean now. We frequently stop at the gas station. We make stops at hospitals along the way to trade supplies. I have traveled with patients that are being transported to other hospitals (when you transfer to a higher level of care they do not go by ambulance but they just sit in the back of the car with a nurse). I don’t mind any of it because this stuff has to happen anyway so conserve in your trips from here to there.
Fun Jamaican stuff: Almost half the cars here are Toyota. Originally I thought they must be the best then but I learned that the parts are the cheapest and easiest to get. By the way if you own a Toyota I can tell you that one of the first things to go out is the speedometer followed by the passenger windshield wiper. The horn though seems everlasting.
Many Jamaicans opt not to get officially married and just do the common law thing. Even if they do get married rings are not always involved.
You will commonly see an infant with a red hair tie on their wrist. Apparently they are supposed to have something red on so that they are watched over.
They dislike the cable companies as much as we do!
I mentioned before most of the buildings are concrete. They have metal roofs. Mostly concrete flooring. No air conditioning (mainly only for businesses) and of course no heater (no need). Instead of billboards and free standing signs they mostly paint on the concrete wall to advertise.
People do with what they have. Unlike Americans if a sister passes down a pink backpack or a purple bike the Jamaican boys will use it. Keep this in mind when examining babies because sometimes boys will have on pink and purple striped socks.
You can’t get a license until you’re 18. You can also drink at 18.

Ok so the title of the post was time for fun. It is Saturday so I didn’t work today. I went to Dunn’s River falls, which was fun. Played 3 games of beach volleyball. Read a book by the pool and now its dinner time! Sorry I can’t post pictures but I forgot the adapter for my camera to load images onto the computer. I am taking plenty though so when I get it I will add them.
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I’ve been slacking on my posts!
So I worked Monday and Tuesday in the clinic in Port Maria. Monday 15 patients. Tuesday 22 patients. Most common diagnoses: fungal infections and colds. I did send someone for labs and asked them to come back next week so we will see how this process goes (will the results make it into the chart? will the mom come back?). She was about 18 months old and had fallen pretty drastically off of the growth chart.
Wednesday I went to Annotto Bay and rounded on the inpatients. Attended another Csection delivery. This one was only 32 weeks gestation so I was nervous but he did great. Oh I needed to give Thao an update- I saw one of the triplets, baby #3. He was admitted but for just a bad cold. He is doing good! Today I went back to Annotto and worked in an outpatient clinic. Mostly hospital follow ups. I had a long conversation with one of the other Peds doctors. He takes call overnight at the hospital 3-4 nights a week. It is just him and another doctor to split up the days. This is because of the shortage of doctors (one took a few months maternity leave and I forget why another had to take some time off).
Fun Jamaican stuff- they use a lot of concrete when they build here (houses, fences, etc).
The vast majority of women breastfeed here, which is wonderful. It is normal to breastfeed in public and for children to still be breastfeeding at older ages than in the US.
There is a college in Kingston which services a large area. You go there for almost any degree you want but they will charge you differently based on your intended degree.
Animals I see daily- lots of stray dogs, goats, and chickens.
Kids don’t have to be in carseats but you will get a ticket if someone under 12 years old is in the front seat.
They do not observe daylight savings time so I was on Central time when I first got here and now I’m on Eastern time.

Ok so tomorrow I head to Port Antonio. It is in a different parish (like a state here) so a new driver will pick me up. Called today to confirm this so tomorrow should be smooth (fingers crossed). I didn’t go last week because of the storm and it is pretty far away.
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