March 2012 Clinic Report by Larry Kaplan, MD
Attracted by the opportunity to expand our medical services into a larger clinic footprint, Haiti Clinic accepted an invitation from We Advance to join them at their Wharf Jeremy (Cite Soleil) site. Founded in 2010, We Advance is an American rights- and community-based organization dedicated “to empower Haitian women’s minds, bodies and spirits and enable them to discover their own needs and priorities.” Last month Haiti Clinic accepted We Advance’s invitation to assume full responsibility for the medical delivery of care to the impoverished and underserved Wharf Jeremy Haitian community.
On March 25-26, eleven Haiti Clinic volunteers conducted our first weekend clinic at Wharf Jeremy. The transition to our new site went smoothly and 850 patients were examined and treated. Our arrival at 8AM the first daywas greeted by long lines of Haitians, some started queuing up at 5:30 AM. As usual, we saw a gamut of diseases ranging from life-threatening illnesses (infant dehydration, bacterial pneumonia, tuberculosis and dysentery) to chronic diseases (parasites, malaria, diabetes, hypertension and nutritional deficiencies) to uncomplicated/complicated pregnancies. For most of our Haitian patients who cannot afford access to medical care elsewhere, Haiti Clinic is the option of last resort.
Once again, our volunteers were amazed to see how a dollar’s worth of medicine can treat, or often cure, life-threatening or life-altering medical conditions. One of my most rewarding experience during these clinic sessions was to hand out generic drugstore eye glasses to 75 men and women who for years could not see close to read or sew, and witness the expressions of gratitude when they first viewed their newly discovered world. The wholesale price of the glasses is $1.00!!
We were joined this weekend by a Canadian dental team from Winnipeg led by Dr. R. Bruce McFarlane. Working side-by-side with two young Haitian dentists, over 70 patients were examined and 118 teeth extracted. For most of these Haitian patients, this was their first encounter with a dentist. Also, adding to the international flavor of our team, we had the pleasure of working with two British physicians, Drs. Colin Tourle and Alison Beadsworth, and benefited from their decades of experience as veteran medical relief workers on four continents.
Our first visit to Wharf Jeremy was a remarkable success and convinced us that our partnership with WeAdvance is a move in the right direction. We are already discussing adding a Haitian dentist, midwife and nutrition nurse to our Haitian medical staff.
Other volunteers included Dr. Shelly Chvotzkin, Dr. Laurie Welton, Kristie Preston, RN, Jintana Weerapan, MSN, Devon Kirkwood, Michelle McFarlane and Kathryn Johnston.