First week. First blog

Hello to all!! I am a Jamaican living in NYC now back in JA as a volunteer pediatrician. Just finished up my first week. I specifically wanted to volunteer in Jamaica so I could forego any potential culture shock and focus on the nitty gritty from the get go.
Well I have visited all the clinics so far, and Port Maria has been the biggest learning experience so far. I had to see 18 pts in 4 hrs (no more complaints about the clinic in NYC) while learning the protocol for labs, imaging and admitting to inpt service. It is all about doing what you can with what you have, a common theme among Jamaicans on a daily basis.
The problems are quite similar, with a fair amt of semi-acute care. When a pt comes in respiratory distress there was no pulse oximeter to take O2 sats, or nebulized solution…this calls for quick clinical judgement and a referral to the ED. A 3mth old boy with fevers for one wk and a large axillary mass. Unable to do CRP, CBC, and bld cx then and there because the lab was closed so I was entrusted with the unenviable task of doubling as a phlebotomist while the charts are being brought in 3 at a time. Nevertheless, another quick referral to the ED for an admission.
What we deem as necessary medical amenities (ear curretes, tongue depressors, otoscope specula, alcohol pads, covering for the bed etc) are not readily available and I stuffed as much as possible in my little black bag. But even in the rural parts of Ja appropriate medication is pretty much available and many a times, free at cost to the pt. That is reassuring.
But after a hard, day in the heat and rush, going back to Couples is a definite treat. I promise to talk more about that in my next blog so stay tuned. Ciao!

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