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I can’t tell you how wonderful Jamaica has been so far!

I flew in on last Thursday, and started working this Monday on 4/14/13.  On Monday, Kasey and I shared a combined examination room at the Accident and Emergency Department at Port Maria Hospital.  We treated a ton of rashes that day (heat rash, papular urticaria, and tinea capitus).  I learned that when infants are taking Irish, they are actually eating mashed potatoes, and that “he du du” means pooping.   Good times.

Tuesday and Wednesday we enjoyed a wonderful drive to Annotto Bay (approximately 1 hr away from the hotel).   The coconut plantations were awesome, and the bay is breathtaking.  Outside the Annotto Bay Hospital, kids played soccer while a view of the Atlantic ocean stretched behind them.

Wednesday, we started off in the inpatient ward.  There were nine kids to round on.  The scariest part was that our sickest patient was a 4 yo male with sickle cell disease who had initially presented in vasoocclusive pain crisis in his back and abdomen, and subsequently developed acute chest syndrome.  In America, we would have this patient in the ICU and would probably be doing an exchange transfusion. Instead, the excellent nurses and doctors (guided by Dr. Ramos) were managing a very sick child on the ward, and doing a remarkable job with his pain control and fluid management.  I didn’t know that in Jamaica there are only two pediatric ICU units, one in Kingston and one at University Hospitals.  Most patients in their ICUs are on ventilators.  Luckily, our patient was maintaining his oxygen level on 4L via mask, and his pain was under good control with Morphine IV prn. 

Here I am, ready for sit down rounds with Dr. Ramos:   

In the afternoon, we headed over to the Accident & Emergency Department. I had the most interesting case, and 11 yo male who presented with R knee pain after a football (soccer) injury.  He was playing in his first game of soccer, jumped up to kick a ball, landed on his right leg, and another player collided with the front of his lower thigh.  He immediately felt pain, and was unable to bear weight or fully extend/flex his lower leg.  His exam was notable for swelling & tenderness around the lateral aspect of his R knee, his ligaments were intact, and he did have a positive McMurray sign (indicative of lateral meniscus tear).  We did X rays of his R knee, made him NPO, and gave him Voltarin IM (a medicine I wasn’t familiar with, generic name diclofenac, an NSAID).  The X rays of his R knee revealed the surprise that Dr. Mitchell (ED doctor) had already predicted. He had an R femur fracture/epiphyseal lysis (a fracture of his thigh bone through his growth plate). I had NEVER seen something like that before!   We called the Orthopedic doctors and sent him to St. Ann’s Bay.   

On Thursday, there was a well clinic at Annotto Bay.  Kasey and I enjoyed the plethora of adorable Jamaican babies who were primarily being seen at their two week and 1 mth check ups.   Both Kasey and |I were humbled by the trust that these parents placed in us…we wore stethoscopes, so we must be doctors.  We were able to give good anticipatory guidance about umbilical hernias, fevers, and no free water!

Thursday afternoon, we again went to the A&E department.  Kasey saw infantile dyschezia, while I saw a 15 year old F with diffuse abdominal pain (started periumbilically, and radiating to RLQ) concerning for possible appendicitis.  X rays of the abdomen were done and showed a nonobstructive bowel gas pattern.  I successfully obtained bloodwork, and started my first IV here in Jamaica!  When the IV fluids started dripping down the tubing, I knew the IV was good and I was proud.  In Jamaica, ED physicians regularly obtain their own bloodwork and start their own IVs.  However, in America it is very different.  I realized how lucky I am to have IV teams, scheduled phebotomists, or ED nurses willing to place IVs and obtain bloodwork.

Today we are at Port Antonio, and it rained this morning.  Kasey says that means that fewer patients will come.  We will have to see what happens next.   

I can’t wait for what the next week will bring!

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This has been a remarkable three week experience.  I am amazed, honored and humbled everyday when I put on my stethoscope.  Funny story from Rena’s first day at Port Maria, there was a 5yo F w/ severe genu varum(bow legs) which had required surgical intervention with external fixation pins still in place.  She refused to believe that our fantastic Dr. Chandra was a doctor.  The reasons she listed were that her other doctors didn’t have eyelashes or long hair, her mother simply corrected her by saying but “ah but she has a stethoscope.”  The respect with which we are given by our patients, the staff, the nurses and other physicians by simply wearing our stethoscopes is humbling.  I am greeted with “Yes, doctor.” Which is extraordinarily formal to me, but to decline would be disrespectful.  I accept it and work harder to earn the privilege.

I know I shouldn’t pick favorites but I will likely always cherish my Annotto Bay experience the most.  Coming back for my third week, I am finally feeling familiar with my surroundings in both the pedi ward and the A&E.  I have been able to orient Rena to the general jist of our day to day activities, and I continue to watch our favorite 24wker grow.  She is doing fantastic, almost up to full feeds.  

In regard to the medicine side of things what I learn is heat + asthma= a full A&E experience.  I was able to care for a fantastic 13yo, who had instead of telling her family about her difficulty breathing been sleeping with her inhaler for the previous two days.  It was a good teaching moment of reviewing proper use of her inhaler, and why we shouldn’t ignore the warning signs of an asthma attack.  It is clear that the dilemma of transitioning the care of adolescence with chronic diseases is an international weak spot. I think the most valuable things I bring with me on a daily basis are a)my brain b)stethoscope c)otoscope and d)portable pulse oximeter.  We just stumbled upon this delightful pulse oximeter which was hidden away in Rena’s computer case, it has been key in my management of the various wheezers. 

Out at Port Antonio today, we met a Swedish pediatrician who was also visiting the region.  We were able to share our experiences.  I think our common theme is that here, or any third world, clinical skills direct management and he reiterated the value of a good physical exam.  The ability to share these experiences is just amazing.  My experience here has made me more thoughtful with my lab ordering and mindful of medication selection.  I will likely post again before I leave, but if I don’t this has been phenomenal.  

P.S. Jamaica I love you

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So living in paradise and working in the tropics is amazing!!! I have been here 12days now, and my adventure is starting to wind down 🙁 but I plan on enjoying every bit of it.  Highlight of my week, there are many, but biggest is that I have a roommate!!! Yay Dr. Rena coming from Ohio to join the Issa fun.

I made it out to Port Maria this week on Monday.  I commandeered another corner of the A&E in the name of Paediatrics, saw a few sick visits but as it was a rainy day there was limited turnout.  What I did see was a pretty impressive L mandibular dental abscess which had been referred to the A&E from a local dentist.  I admitted her and started her on IV Augmentin, I attempted to use Clindamycin but there was none available.  The downside was that I knew that even once the antibiotics improved the inflammation, that she ultimately needed the tooth extraction.  This is a down point because access to dental care is even more limited than health care down here.  The happy ending is that when I returned to work on Tuesday, and visited her on the ward she was able to fully open her mouth and her pain was improved.  Though the ending is not ideal, I did make a difference.

Wednesday may be my favorite day of the week here.  The day starts with inpatient rounds, and the medicine is overall similar but the drugs of choices and incidence of drug resistance are worlds apart it seems.   There is always good discussion about Western trends in medicine and whether or not it is applicable herein Jamaica.   From there I wander down to the A&E.  It is always curious to me when the nurses ask me if I will see a child >12yo.  It was explained to me that their Pedi wards go from 0-12yo, but this limitation is due to the size of the beds.

Back down in the A&E my day was just about down when a frantic father brought in his 4yo son.  Seems the unfortunate little one was found at the other end of his sister’s bucket and had been hit directly in the eye.  His conjunctival edema was so impressive that I was very worried about a conjunctival laceration.  We were able to refer him fairly quickly to Bastamante Children’s to see ophthamology.  After this busy day I get to ride back along the countryside and watch the sunset as I rode.   Working in paradise, is a gift.

Working is great, but this is Jamaica we are talking about and I now have a fantastic partner in crime.  So far we’ve taken in tons of fantastic food, shopping and reggae dancing.  I look forward to the International Gala the resort is having tonight.   The setup looks fantastic and I am sure the food will be amazing as always! 
The view from Annotto Bay A&E

Port Antonio Paediatric Ward, about 10 beds and cribs in one large room.

Looking out at the island at the end of a long day…
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Every morning I look to my left and there is the amazing Atlantic.  I am about one week into my rotation, and I’ve now been to the Annotto Bay and Port Antonio Hospitals.  The commute from the resort to Port Antonio is about two hours, I can’t tell you for certain because I was completely distracted as we were driving through the rain forest.  Crazy lush foliage going up hills/mountains, crossing over the Rio Grande and the Atlantic Ocean is pretty much always just over your left shoulder. This is all in a day’s commute.  Mr. Campbell,who is one of the adminstrators at Port Antonio, drove me on Friday I used this time during the commute to learn about the quality of life in Jamaica from education to shopping to roads. 

Once at Port Antonio, I had a chance to visit their Pedi Wards.  They are set up differently than ours in the US but they utilize what all of the resources are available.  There is definitely a need present.  Their facilities have relied on a lot of international donations, I am at total a 4hr flight from home and technically Hawaii or California is further but the difference in resources is night and day, Seeing how they are functioning on minimal resources(no code cart, limited number of nebulizer machines(like 2), no cardiac monitoring or unreliable pulse oximetry).   I never thought I’d actually be recommending the use of oral Albuterol, but the need forces your hand.  It forces you to rely on clinical judgment which I guess is why its the practice of medicine.

A common theme, seen both in the US and here in Jamaica, is the difficulty in chronic care management of our children with cerebral palsy and what to do when families become overburdened with their care.  I had a good discussion with Dr. Barrett about how best to optimize their care with simple interventions such as benzos and stretching to improve spasticity to increase their ease of care.  

Life back at Couples is fantastic, the staff is amazing.  It is the weekend, so I have tons of free time.  Between just enjoying the sun so far today I’ve been kayaking and sailing on a “Hobie” in the Atlantic.   I am pacing myself because all of these water adventures occur between delicious meal times and sunbathing.  Well cocoa bread is calling me and there is still some sun left, I will tell you guys more later. 
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To say it is beautiful here is a gross understatement.  The land, the water and the people have eased my transition into life on this amazing island. I know my predecessors have mentioned the amazing scenic views on the way to work, but I was still awestruck.  There is something fantastic about living and working within walking distance to the Atlantic.

I started out my adventure at the Annoto Bay Hospital on the inpatient ward. I was intrigued and impressed to see the team caring for a former 24wk infant( rocking out on bubble CPAP alone!!!) who was continuing to beat odds on a daily basis.  It was good opportunity to use my prior NICU experience to add additional insight, but I was reminded how spoiled I am back home with what seems like limitless resources. Here they’ve two incubators, and no ventilators at this facility with only limited numbers at other hospitals.  The care they provide here relies on clinical expertise.  I feel I both have much to give and so much to learn at the same time.

From the inpatient wards I wandered down to the A&E with Dr(s). Mitchell and Espinosa who also welcomed me with open arms, which translates to happily tolerated my frequent questions and requests for translations.  There I was able to see the variety of sick children who came in whose illnesses ranged from viral gastroenteritis to seizures.  The pharmaceutical trade names here are totally different, also your repertoire is limited to what is easily available to these patients.  Ever heard of Lucozade? Me either but between the patients and the other physicians they helped me figure it out, overall I had a great first day.  I can’t wait for day two!!!
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After a good nights rest and some medication both myself and Stephanie felt much better. It took awhile to get going on Friday but the Jamaica sunshine is a great motivator.We were unable to go to Port Antonio on Friday which made us both sad because we’ve seen so many great cases there and their need for Pediatricians is perhaps the greatest. Dr. Ramos only sees pediatric patients on Tuesdays and he has to limit the number to 15 given his other duties. Now that the community of Port Antonio is catching wind that we are present on Fridays the patients come in good number.

I have to say we took our last weekend by storm. We first decided to lay in the sun and relax as both of us had not felt well for the pat 24 hours but after watching everyone else on the resort participate in activities we were both itching to do something. We decided on snorkeling and had a blast. We saw tons of fish, my favorite were these amazing light blue ones that reminded me of Dori on ‘Finding Nemo’ and Stephanie loved the yellow fish with black stripes which she thought kind of resembled Nemo 🙂 She was also lucky enough to see a sting ray! I was soooojealous!! We were pretty exhausted after this one little excursion so we returned to the room for some rest and nearly slept through our dinner reservations made over a week ago. But no worries, we rallied and got ready in no time. After all…you can’t pass up the amazing food here on Couples resorts.

Saturday we awoke to go train for scuba diving. We had been looking forward to this the entire trip but typically they only do classes on weekdays. We first did a swim test (you have no idea how hard 4 laps
in pool can be) and luckily we both passed! We then watched a 30 minute video about the equipment and safety instructions for scuba diving. Then we were off to the pool in our gear. We like to think we looked fashionable but our wet suits were a little awkward fitting to say the least. We practiced in the pool for about 45 minutes but unfortunately I had a cold and was unable to clear my ears at just 6 feet (the depth of the pool) and that’s not safe for scuba diving. Steph and I had a blast practicing in the pool and our instructor was phenomenal. I guess I’ve just been loving up on too many sick Jamaican children in the A&E 🙂 Since scuba was out and we were feeling adventurous we decided to go skiing behind the boat. We’ve both have been water skiing behind boats in the lake but never the ocean so we were beyond excited. It was late morning and the water was a little choppy but we both managed to get up twice and had a blast. Our boat driver Kenneth was so nice and knew exactly how to pull skiers out of the water.

 Later that afternoon we went on the Catamaran cruise (our 4th time…we know, a little excessive) but we love the crew and the peacefulness off being out on the ocean. Plus we met some great people this time who were spending their anniversary here and had some great conversation. The waves were a little crazy and Stephanie and I had a few scares sitting on the front of the boat (I lost my prized blue aviator sunglasses!!) but all in all it was a great time. I found myself in a back flipping competition off the boat with one of the staff, Odain, and I like to think I won. He was much more fearless than me though and his one foot back flip was a crowd pleaser. After returning back to the resort, we participated in a Reggae Dance class on the beach. I’m sure we provided great entertainment and a lot of laughing for those watching. We again had a great dinner and ended our night by skyping our fellow 2nd year residents. This weekend was our annual retreat and we were sad to miss it but we like to think we were there in spirit. After much laughing and telling them about our experiences here we hit the sack looking forward to our last weekend day on the resort.
We woke up Sunday and climbed Dunn’s River. We had both done this before, Stephanie 6 years ago on a cruise and me on my honeymoon 4 years ago, but we were up for a 2nd trip. The sun was out and we again
were feeling adventurous. Our bus driver, Gary, had to be one of the funniest people I’ve ever encountered. He gave us a full tour of Jamaica on our way to the falls telling us about everything we passed from an Electric Store with the motto “stronger for longer” (you can imagine the jokes made) to the only radio station on this side of the island called ‘Irie’ which plays only reggae music. He then gave us a run down of the geography of Jamaica, explaining that we had passed through 4 parishes from the airport to the resort which resides in St. Mary (interesting fact is that Port Maria where we work Monday and Tuesday is the capital of St. Mary). We arrived at Dunn’s River and after very strict instructions from Gary regarding vendors and video purchasing we were off. It was a great group of people from the resort and we had an absolute blast. Walking hand in hand with a bunch of strangers up a waterfall doesn’t sound like the safest thing but we were taken care of by our guides and each other. From falling backwards into the water to going down a natural slide made in the rocks we were smiling the entire time. We don’t have pictures because we forgot to bring a waterproof camera but it was beautiful and a great time overall! We got back to the resort and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the sun and making tie-dye shirts!!! I was much more excited than Stephanie as tie-dying has long been a passion of mine, just playing, kind of.  We made late afternoon spa appointments for a facial and pedicure, both of which were wonderful and a must if you get time. By the end we were so relaxed and thankful for the much needed pampering. We then headed to dinner and like always the food was amazing. We also met this great couple who were on their 13th trip to this resort and had a son in his 2nd year of medical school!! We had great conversation with them and ended the dinner stuffed!


Today was our last full day in Jamaica and Stephanie and I both woke up sad. We pumped each other up at breakfast and reminded ourselves we were dedicated to returning. The children of Jamaica have a huge piece of our heart and the need for their care is immense. We spent the day at Port Maria, which is perhaps my favorite hospital because we see the most volume there and the nurses are phenomenal and extremely helpful. We learned from our driver this morning that Port Maria serves 66 communities and 8 surrounding towns. No wonder the volume is so great! We also learned that they have no ultrasound machine or tech in the entire hospital. You must be referred to St.Ann’s which only accepts 2 patients a day. We are blessed to have so many resources in America, this trip has taught me never to take that for granted. Stephanie spent the day in A&E and myself in clinic but upon our arrival we were met by a concerned mother. I had seen her 3 year-old boy last Tuesday for an ear infection and possible right-sided inguinal hernia. Mom’s description of a bulge while crying or coughing was consistent and on my exam I could appreciate a bulge during valsalva. I made a referral for pediatric surgery at St. Ann’s which only holds clinic Tuesday and Thursday morning but mom had not gone. I also gave her instructions for seeking immediate medical treatment if the bulge became painful and constant, there was color change over the area, abdominal distention, or uncontrolled fever. She followed those instructions thankfully and today she explained that the bulge had been persistent for 2 days and he was now limping while he walked complaining of pain. Stephanie and I were absolutely concerned for incarceration and after our physical exam and a discussion with the A&E physician the plan was for immediate transfer to St.Ann’s to be evaluated by surgery. What an eventful way to start the morning! Clinic continues to be busy here at Port Maria and I saw many skin infections (a kerion being a new one) and lots of colds and ear infections. I had an especially adorable 1 year-old who was intrigued by my stethoscope. Sadly his newly erupting teeth posed a great threat so I eventually had to take it back but not before some great pictures!

Stephanie was in the A&E and had another appendicitis scare! Once again the lab was down so she only had an abdominal X-ray to help her in addition to her physical exam. And guess what? Constipation strikes again. She also had a little girl brought in by her Aunt for breathing difficulties. On exam she was wheezing with crackles on the right lower base and her vitals on presentation revealed hypoxia. She was placed on oxygen immediately and given a breathing treatment. Unfortunately she didn’t improve and was admitted to the hospital. She was treated with CTX and continued on oxygen with the admission diagnosis of bacterial pneumonia. Most of her labs and CXR will have to be done later since everything had closed down for the day.

Our last drive home from work was gorgeous like always. After you get out of the town of Port Maria it’s just ocean for a few kilometers and it’s breathtaking. Nothing can ever beat it.
Tonight were packing (and maybe crying) as we prepare to leave in the morning. We can’t believe it’s already over. We’re planning on going to the beach party tonight followed by Margaritaville with the rest of the resort-goers 🙂 it should be a great ending to a wonderful trip!

Fully blessed and sad to leave,
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I can’t believe that this experience is almost over.  Stevie and I have been so grateful for this month and are so sad when we realize its coming to an end. 

Wednesday and Thursday were our last days at Annotto Bay Hospital.  On Wednesday, we helped with patients on the pediatric ward.  Per usual, the morning was filled with interesting cases and great discussions led by Dr Ramos.  In the peds ward, there was a 1 day old 26 weeker who was doing surprisingly well.  At 900g the child was doing fabulous, maintaining good oxygen saturation without being intubated and maintaining his temp with an incubator that was duct taped closed!  We had an interesting talk on rounds about fluid management in neonates and the ways that things are done both at home and here.  Although we knew we were returning to Annotto Bay on Thursday, Stevie and I were both a little sad saying goodbye to the doctors we had worked with on the wards.  Dr Blake, Dr Yandav, Dr Fisher and Dr Ramos have all been fabulous to work with here in Jamaica and we hope that our paths cross again at some point!!


Wednesday afternoon Stevie and I had our first exposure to cricket as we watched a high school match.   Jamaicans take their cricket games very seriously!!  I was amazed at the number of people watching and the loud cheers when the home bowler hit the wicket!!

Thursday was a busy day at Annotto Bay!  Every other Thursday is well baby clinic where any infants born recently return for one follow up with hospital physicians.   After that visit, if they are doing well then they are just followed at the community health centers for immunizations.  When Stevie and I arrived there was a huge line of mothers holding their infants waiting to be seen.  We quickly got to work seeing the adorable newborns.  Fortunately, we did see many healthy newborns who were breast feeding and gaining weight wonderfully.  I also saw 2 patients with supernumerary digits.  Interestingly, when I mentioned removal one of the mothers told me she wanted the extra digits to grow— she had also had supernumerary digits and was angry that her mother had hers removed.  Unfortunately, the extra fingers were already starting to turn purplish so I spent a great deal of time educating the mom about why they would need to be removed and referred her to surgery clinic.   I contemplated tying them off myself but due to lack of equipment and mom’s reluctance I decided the surgery clinic would be a better idea!! 

I didn’t want to forget to mention about some of the Jamaican culture we have learned about here.  Many of the babies seen here have “ascifnata” placed in their hair.  Stevie and I had no clue what we were looking at the first time we saw it!!  Finally one of the mom’s explained that it’s to keep colds away from the babies.  Apparently it doesn’t work for older people though so don’t go searching for ascifnata at the drug store next year during cold season!!  Also many of the babies have red bracelets on that look like hair bands.  The nurses told us that many of the mom’s will get angry if you take these off the infants because they are placed there for protection and to ward off evil spirits also called dunny’s.  No matter where you are in the world, culture will play a role in your medical care!! 

I also wanted to make sure that Stevie and I mentioned our gratitude for Dr Ramos.  Dr Ramos is one of a very small number of pediatric trained physicians here in Jamaica.  After clinic he spent a long time explaining the Jamaican medical training system to us, as well as how the hospitals function on a day to day basis.  He was also curious about the US system and details involving the residency program.  Dr Ramos is an excellent physician who constantly challenges you to push your knowledge base.  He is a great teaching physician who is wonderful for any learning physician to get to work with. 

Our afternoon at Annotto Bay actually brought us back to the peds wards where we helped Dr Yandav with procedures.  We were able to start IVs and perform femoral sticks for necessary labs.  In Jamaica, the physicians, not the nurses, start all IVs and perform all necessary labs.  Stevie and I both love procedures and wish we had more opportunities to perform basic procedures such as starting IVs at home.   This rotation has been a wonderful opportunity to help patients in need while also learning procedural skills from physicians who do these basic procedures day in and day out.  Although Dr Yandav disagrees, he is a wonderful teacher of procedures and Stevie and I both were successful at the procedures because of his advice!!  These hints are things I will continue to use while practicing in the US.  Another advantage to performing procedures in the afternoon was that Stevie and I were able to say goodbye to many of the fabulous nurses we have worked with on the wards!!  These people have huge hearts and we will miss them!

There is a soccer field right by the hospital.  Well a soccer field, cricket field, whatever you want to call it.  I love soccer and some Jamaican kids are amazing.  It’s clear that they’ve grown up with a ball on their foot!!

Unfortunately, the ride situation home from Annotto Bay can be much more frustrating than at the other hospitals we work at so we are getting back to our resort way later than usual.  Stevie hasn’t felt great today but we’re hoping a relaxing ride home will help her feel better.  Keeping our fingers crossed that later on we’ll be enjoying the great food and live music that we’ve become accustomed too.

Still feeling so blessed,
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I can’t believe this is our last full week, it’s flown by. The drive to work is going to be hard to beat when we return home.

We started at Port Maria on Monday and we were busy! Stephanie was in clinic and saw many rashes, infected scabies being the most common.  After consulting with each other and the physicians we learned they treat with a combination of permethrin, augmentin, and mupirocin. Scabies is not that common in our setting at home and seeing it infected is even less common. Once again our physical exam skills are being sharpened. I spent the day in the A&E and felt overwhelmed with the number and variety of things I saw. At one point I had a little girl in the observation area receiving IVFs, 2 children in the lab followed by X-rays, and 5 patients waiting outside. It felt like home and my multi-tasking skills were at their best. Perhaps the most challenging but revealing case was an 8 yo male who presented with complaints of HA, sore throat, anorexia, emesis, and abdominal pain for 1-2 days. He was febrile to 102.4 on arrival and did not appear to feel well. After a detailed history I learned he lacked URI symptoms and combined with my physical exam of cervical lymphadenopathy and an erythematous oropharynx I was leaning towards the diagnosis of strep pharyngitis. I had one hold up though, his abdomen was extremely tender and he demonstrated guarding in the RLQ without rebound. Upon questioning he kept pointing to his umbilicus when I asked where it hurt the most. We all know appendicitis in a child can present atypically but pain that started near his umbilicus, tenderness in the RLQ, high fever, anorexia, and emesis seemed a little too classic to let him go with just a script for amoxicillin. So I started delving into more history asking mom about his bowel habits, desperately looking for another cause of abdominal pain. He did exhibit some signs of constipation so I decided a KUB and a CBC could help me make a decision. A KUB to look for constipation and even free air if he had ruptured his appendix (unlikely given his exam) and an elevated white count, again to help rule out appendicitis. We were unable to get the CBC but the KUB showed constipation!! By that time he was running around outside and I felt very comfortable sending him with a course of amoxicillin for pharyngitis and mineral oil for constipation. Long story for a simple diagnosis but it goes to show that you can’t ignore classic signs of something you can’t afford to miss, appendicitis. It also shows that constipation in children is painful! Always keep it in your differential!

Monday nights at the resort are “Beach nights” and they make this wonderful dinner and have appetizers and drinks and music outside. We haven’t yet participated in this awesome party but we did stop by and sneak a few of the appetizers. Our plan is to enjoy it our last Monday here which is this one upcoming.

On Tuesday we returned to Port Maria and switched our roles, Steph in the A&E and myself in clinic. Unfortunately the clinic had no available rooms for me so Steph and I shared a room. It was a busy day but we made the small space work. We saw over 30 patients together! Along with our ability to be efficient, our physical exams were put to the test. For visualization, we saw classic tinea capitis, diaper dermatitis, and more scabies. For auscultation, we heard many variations of wheezing as we had to frequently assess asthmatics after breathing treatments. For palpation, we assessed for fluctuancy of skin abscesses and I’m fairly certain we felt the “sausage” mass associated with intussusception. Other physical exam findings to note were strabismus and ptosis. It was a great day overall filled with a  huge amount of learning potential we definitely capitalized on. Today also brought continuity which is amazing. Steph and I were able to follow up with our little boy who’s finger was lacerated after a grease pan had fell on it last week. We repaired it and prescribed augmentin and mupirocin along with recommendations to keep the dressing clean and dry. But little boys being boys that dressing came back as dirty and wet as you could imagine. There was pus overlying the lac when we removed the dressing but I like to think our antibiotics and mupirocin helped keep the infection at bay. We ended the afternoon as we had done last Monday but Steph and I switched roles. I tightly held the sweet little boy in a chair while Stephanie removed the sutures and redressed it. It was quite the tear-filled experience for our little guy as he remembered the procedure room from last week but he still liked us afterwards. He’s coming back next Monday and continuing on antibiotics.

When we got back to resort we were exhausted from a full day and we spent an hour sitting by the beach just talking about the patients we saw that day, reviewing their presentations, and running our plans by one another. It’s such a blessing to have time after a long day to really process what you did. The opportunity to process rarely, if ever, comes when working at home. I think most residents would agree with me. By the time you’re off work you’re often so exhausted that the only thing you can do is eat dinner, shower, and go sleep as you prepare for the next day, especially as we’ve switched to shift work.  I cannot convey how wonderful it has been to just sit and talk with Stephanie about medicine. I know from our weekend adventures that medicine may seem to be the last thing on our mind as we return to the resort every evening but that’s honestly not the case. We both feel like we learned so much here and are appreciative for the much need down time.

We concluded the night with an amazing dinner at 8 Rivers and we even got fancy for the occasion. The food was delicious and filling and the waiter was shocked when we turned down desert. We then went to the main dinning area to enjoy some live music and found ourselves out on the dance floor in no time. From ‘We are Family’ to ‘YMCA’ we tore up the dance floor and made many new friends!

 Extremely blessed and thankful…S&S
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Friday was spent back at Port Antonio Hospital.  Stevie and I decided to switch it up again– her going to the A&E and me going to clinic.   I was really looking forward to the complex consultant cases Stevie had seen the week prior but unfortunately it started to rain again on Friday as well.  We were told when we first got here that Jamaicans don’t like to leave their houses when it is raining and I think that must be true because I had my first slow morning!!  At home I would kill for a morning like that but with access to care so limited here, I was chomping at the bit for more patients so I joined Stevie in the A&E.  The rain didn’t keep patients out of the A&E!!  Stevie and I both had a busy day seeing several common pediatric complaints– viral processes, strep pharyngitis and a few lacerations as well.  I mentioned earlier how Jamaican physicians learn to rely on their history and physical exams more than anything else– volunteering here is a wonderful opportunity to pick up on these exam skills.  I saw a 6 year old little boy with 2 days of fever, sore throat, headache and vomiting with no cough or respiratory symptoms.  He had large tonsils with exudate noted, a white strawberry tongue and even pastia’s lines in his antecubital fossa— I didn’t need a rapid strep to confirm this was strep pharyngitis!  No lab tests were ordered and I was able to send him home with a 10 day course of amoxicillin and maternal education about keeping him hydrated.  I finished my day by seeing a newborn in the maternity ward that I was asked to evaluate because the mother was VDRL positive and meconium staining was noted at delivery.  In addition to this the infant was noted to be mildly tachypnic with nasal flaring so the nurses in the maternity ward had placed him on oxygen.  There is not pulse oximetry available in the maternity ward so we had no way to document exactly what his O2 sat was.  When I saw the infant (about 1 hour after birth) he looked well.  The differential included congenital syphilis, TTNB, Meconium Aspiration syndrome vs congenital heart defect.  The general physicians asked me how we handled meconium deliveries — although the infant was improving they were planning on a gastric lavage to prevent vomiting.  I explained that we don’t do that back home and explained our process for meconium at deliveries.  The 2 generalist and I then had a great discussion regarding congenital syphilis and what is medically indicated when mom states she was treated but we have no documentation of this.  It was a great learning opportunity for all of us!!!  Ultimately we decided to treat the infant with PCN until lab results returned and admit him to the peds wards for monitoring of his respiratory status.  Oh and we didn’t perform a gastric lavage!!  I’m curious to see what happened with that little one when we return next week!

Friday night was the first night that we ate dinner at 8 Rivers which is the nicest restaurant here at Couples Resort.  We were treated to an amazing 5 course meal and wonderful wine!  We left stuffed but happy and spent the rest of the night enjoying the live music on a beautiful Jamaican night!!

On Saturday we were excited to spend the morning scuba diving but unfortunately the weather did not cooperate and we weren’t able to go this weekend– hopefully we’ll be swimming with the fish next Saturday!  Jamaica is such a beautiful country even on a cloudy, rainy day so we were still able to have wonderful day despite the weather!!  We went back on the catamaran cruise in the afternoon and had another wonderful trip.   It was the same crew as our previous cruise and they all remembered us and treated us like old friends from the start.  We spent the afternoon laughing, dancing and enjoying being out on the ocean.  Even with the occasional rain showers, that is hard day to beat!! 

 Sunday was a beautiful tropical Jamaican day!!  After the last Saturday Stevie and I were well prepared with lots of sunscreen and we had a fabulous day playing in the ocean.  We even went kayaking around the island.  It was so much fun that we are already planning our next kayaking trip back home– that or we’re going to be on amazing race.  Do you think they’d give us time off from residency to compete?? 


We spent the late afternoon treating ourselves to a massage at the spa here at Couples Resort.   The amenities here really are too good to be true and the massage was one of the best massages I’ve ever had!!  I’d highly recommend it to anyone staying here at the resort.  After the massage we showered and got ready for another fun night with great food, good wine and live music.  Because it was St Patty’s day back home we wore our green out to celebrate.  No green beers here in Jamaica but it was still a great night!!

I can’t believe we’ve already been here 2 weeks.  I can’t wait to see what the rest of this trip has in store…


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This opportunity continues to be amazing and eye-opening. We spent Tuesday at Port Maria and Steph and I switched it up…her going to clinic and me in the A&E. Stephanie was referred many patients from the Matron for complaints found during their well checks. Common things being common, she diagnosed pneumonia, otitis media, and many rashes. She was able to follow up with a patient I had seen the day prior who had fever without a source and was given IM Ceftriaxone and asked to come back. The great news is that he looked much better and was smiling and playful. It’s amazing that we’re able to have continuity here as the moms often have to walk long distances to the hospital. The people here continue to put smiles on our faces and it’s very apparent how much the mothers care for their children.

My time in the A&E at Port Maria was eventful to say the least. With the recent rain and “cold front” as the Jamaicans call it, I saw lots of asthma exacerbations. I did my best to educate each family and even found handouts about asthma in the clinic room. I sent two of them home with asthma action plans! The most exciting and challenging part of the day was a precious 3 year-old boy who needed his finger sutured. With no anxiolytic and only myself and Steph to hold him the process was extremely difficult but we got it done. Plus he is coming back next week for follow up.

Wednesday we returned to Annotto Bay Hospital and started the morning with rounds. We had extremely interesting patients and there was lots of good discussion not only about each patient’s treatment plan but about medicine in general. A little boy had been admitted the night before with 4 days of cold and cough symptoms along with 2 days of alternating lethargy and irritability. The interesting part of his history was that he had been given “bush tea” over the past 2 days. He’d received IVFs overnight and the leading diagnosis had been intoxication from “bush tea”. We learned on rounds that it’s customary, especially in the rural areas of Jamaica, for mothers to make tea from various bushes as a cold remedy. But similar to being in the US,  we have no idea how safe these herbal remedies are. We ultimately determined after much discussion, that “bush tea” intoxication is truly a diagnosis of exclusion given the lack of reported cases. With that being said an encephalopathy/encephalitis needed to be ruled out with an LP.  Soooo…if there’s a take home message to this story, it’s don’t give bush tea to your child!!!  We then finished up the day with Dr. Yandav doing procedures. We each performed an LP and drew blood for the lab. It was a wonderful day spent with sweet patients and great physicians.

We returned to the resort Wednesday night and rested a bit before having dinner at the Bayside restaurant (Asian cuisine). We had a delicious dinner and then we stayed up waaaaay too late to enjoy the steel band. They were amazing and full of energy. They played versions of popular songs like gangnam style and tons of Michael Jackson, my favorite. They had dance routines, outfit changes, and even did this crazy balancing stunt. It was incredible to say the least.

Today we spent the morning in clinic at Annotto Bay Hospital. Last week was filled with 2 week-old infants coming for hospital follow-up and weight checks but today we saw many older patients. Stephanie and I both saw many children with seizures, some with epilepsy on AEDs and others with febrile seizures. We both gave a lot of education to the families with children having febrile seizures, emphasizing that controlling the fever could prevent the seizure. Dr. Yandav joined in and made the very valid point that the seizures typically occur just prior to the fever or sometimes afterwards. His point was that parents should treat their child with either panadol (acetaminophen) or cataflam (diclofenac) at the first sign of warmth to touch. Interspersed between these patients was an asthma follow-up, phimosis, UTI, and well checks. The most exciting part of the day for me was following up with an infant I had seen just last week on the wards. The mom remembered me which made the visit all that more enjoyable. It’s amazing that here in Jamaica we are able to have continuity. While the morning was bustling, the afternoon was rather slow in the A&E which is proving to be the trend. I think with all the damage from Hurricane Sandy there is limited knowledge that the A&E is up and running and ready for kids. This did give us the chance though to follow up on our patients from the wards and it was really rewarding to know that all of the LPs performed yesterday were normal. It was also nice to see all the precious patients again too. We ended the afternoon with a snack from the Tuck Shop, the local eatery here at the Hospital. We had beef and cheese patties, curtesy of Dr. Marshall, one of the A&E physicians. We were warned that Jamaicans have heartier stomachs so we can only blame ourselves if there are negative repercussions from our eating adventure. It was totally worth it though…patties are delicious!

We’re heading back to the resort. It’s cloudy and cool here…maybe another cold from is moving in. After our late night watching the steel band we’re planning on naps and an early dinner. I say that but the idea of kayaking is being thrown around because even through our exhaustion we want to take advantage of the amazing opportunity we’ve been given. Well see 🙂


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