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First day in Jamaica and we are loving the people and the place. Can’t wait to go the hospital and meet the staff and all the children. Day 1 of an incredible journey so let’s get started!!  
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There is plenty of variety this week-gingivostomatitis, possible appy, scabies, and a nursemaid’s elbow. I was able to call an Orthopedist on his cell for a consult and follow up with a few patients from previous visits. For the possible appy, I made sure I had an updated contact number to follow the patient’s symptoms, arranged follow up, and provided  a surgery consult referral in case her symptoms worsened. There’s a better workflow between the nurses and myself now that we’re familiar with each other’s expectations and I certainly pitch in and vitalize my patients when triage gets backed up. I also feel more at ease with documentation, accessing records, ordering films, and selecting appropriate referral centers.   Unfortunately, this was a short week for me due to a viral illness (flu season), but I’m feeling much better now and ready to get back to work.
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My first week went better than expected. The first few days were a bit rough working with little guidance or orientation but I figured things out soon enough. Once you figure out the system at one site, it’s pretty similar to others, so I didn’t need much orienting afterwards. Surprisingly, the resources weren’t as limited as I had been preparing for. I ordered and reviewed chest radiographs within one shift, selected several different antibiotics from the formulary to treat cellulitis, made a timely referral for a urologic emergency, and there was an otoscope at every site. I saw ~50 patients-plenty of asthma, URIs, cellulitis, and fungal infections. The communication between the nurses and myself varied from site to site. Most of the time, I had to request to keep a steady flow of patients and not assume I needed scheduled breaks. Nurses triage adults and children so getting orders filled in a timely manner, urgent or not, varied day to day. I surprised to see how much autonomy the nurses took in caring for the asthmatics, treating them with duonebs and steroids for 1-1.5hrs before I every laid eyes on them. By the time I listened to the patients, their mild exacerbations had been cleared. The patients and their families seemed grateful to be evaluated by a pediatrician. I spent a lot of time educating patients on inhaler+spacer use, controller vs rescue inhalers, monitoring for dehydration signs, and SIDs precautions. We’ll see how next week goes…
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Ernie Sandona (left), biomedical engineer and Issa Trust Foundation volunteer, demonstrates some of the modern features of the state-of-the art ECG machine to Dr Vincent Riley, cardiologist.

Ernie Sandona (left), biomedical engineer and Issa Trust Foundation volunteer, demonstrates some of the modern features of the state-of-the art ECG machine to Dr Vincent Riley, cardiologist.

Reported by the Jamaica Gleaner Friday | November 25, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Over the past two weeks, the Issa Trust Foundation – founded as the non-profit arm of Couples Resorts in 2005 – has donated a total of $10.3 million in equipment and supplies to hospitals in St Mary, St Ann and Portland as well as the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital. Twenty autoclaves (valued at $3.4 million), which are medical electronic equipment that sterilise surgical instruments under high temperature and high pressure, were part of the donation, as well as a new Welch Allyn ECG machine valued at $580,000. A crucial element of donations made by the Issa Trust Foundation is the provision of training and maintenance. Ernie Sandona, a biomedical engineer from Michigan, United States, was on hand to conduct a training session to approximately 30 attendees at the Annotto Bay Conference Centre. His training focused on the proper use and maintenance of the equipment to ensure longevity.   A shipment of new cribs, mattresses, IV poles and baby scales, all donated by Direct Relief, a valued partner of the Issa Trust Foundation, was made to the St Ann’s Bay Hospital with a value of $1.9 million.
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4 weeks in Jamaica has flown by!  This rotation has been one of the highlights of the year, and we are a day away from heading back to 5 degree weather and rain.  I will miss the people of Jamaica – their friendly smiles, greetings, and the adorable babies with full heads of hair!  The variety of clinical settings we have worked in has been a great.  We worked in 3 different community sites – Port Maria Hospital on Mondays and Tuesdays, Annotto Bay Hospital on Wednesday and Thursdays, and Port Antonio on Fridays. We worked on the inpatient wards, the A&E (accident and emergency) department, the hospital clinic, and a health clinic. This elective has been a great opportunity to solidify 4 years of pediatric training, and work autonomously within a medical system with limited resources. Though we may have had the most dedicated pediatric training in the A&Es and health clinic, medical knowledge is only one part of patient care, and learning to navigate the medical system, choosing the most appropriate (and available) investigations and treatment, and accessing interdisciplinary resources was a challenge that pushed me to better refine my critical thinking and clinical skills.   The medicine here is great for a general pediatrician. There was some common pathology here that I rarely saw at home (scabies, tinea capitus and kerion, furuncles, tinea corporis, extranumerary digit, large abdominal hernias, infected styes). There was pathology I was very familiar with (asthma, eczema, viral illness, AOM, gastroenteritis, concussion, bronchiolitis, Coxsackie virus, febrile seizures etc), and there were some interesting cases (gasoline burn, vitamin ingestion, motor vehicle accident). Having come during “winter time” in Jamaica, there were many viruses going around. While many patients presented with viral symptoms, some had convincing history and physical exams suggestive of bacterial infections. Choosing the most appropriate antibiotic based on what was available at the pharmacy, or what the parents could afford at the private pharmacy had challenges, and often times, second line or third line antibiotics would be prescribed due to these limitations. Getting cultures done were often futile as samples (if not lost) and results are shipped out to and back from Kingston, and could take weeks. Without an EMR system, bloodwork is labelled by hand, paper blood results are physically transported, X-rays are printed on films, and all patient information is recorded by hand. I learned to actively ask myself why I was ordering specific investigations and how results would change my management, something I will take home with me, especially in my future career as a pediatric emergency physician.   The most enjoyable part of the elective has been interacting with the Jamaican people – they are friendly, kind, and genuine. They appreciate the work that we do, and ask us when we will be back. Parents who came from areas more than an hour away came to clinics before 7am in the morning to register, and waited patiently until physicians were able to see their child. Parents were only grateful and appreciative to have a physician see them, despite sometimes waiting for more than 8 hours. One of the biggest impacts we can have on the patients we see is education – teaching parents about their child’s condition, explaining what we think their child may have, and what the medications we prescribe do and how to take them.   I am also fortunate to have had a colleague and great friend come work beside me over the last 4 weeks. The benefits of having his clinical perspective and expertise in discussing cases where the diagnosis or treatment plan was not straight forward helped me feel more comfortable in my final management.  I am grateful we were able to support each other in learning around our cumulative interesting cases, and navigating an unfamiliar medical system.   Lastly, I would like to acknowledge the great work that the Issa Foundation does to help improve the health and quality of life for young Jamaicans. During my time here, we saw grass roots progress being made: sustainable equipment delivered to hospitals with in-service teaching provided, and vision screening at schools with glasses given out to children who needed them. For me, working within a fantastic organization was important in participating in an elective to ensure that there was continuity with the work we do.
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