- Approximately 180 individual patients were seen throughout the two weeks. This number does not include the people seen from the mobile clinic. And many of those 180 patients were seen more than once for follow-ups.
- We extended our reach with home visits to those who had great difficulty in getting to the clinic. These were eye-opening and humbling. We saw how the average people live with little material goods, while being rich relationally.
- We had our first mobile clinic in a town 30 minutes outside of Vaudreuil. Many of these patients then travelled to Bethesda for follow-up visits the next week.
- We continued to deepen personal and professional relationships with the other medical professions at Bethesda in order to grow referrals from each entity.
- We held our third formal education course to PT techs.
- All along the way, we mentored the PT staff of Bethesda. They will continue to provide excellent care after our departure.
Wednesday, December 25, 2019
Friday, December 20, 2019
This week has gone by very quickly, but it also seems that so much has happened we feel like we have been here for months. I (Josh) have not actually spent much time in the clinic but instead have been making many visits to people’s homes (as well as working on a special project). Before we came to Haiti, Julie sent us information on a few people that had a need for wheelchairs. We were blessed to be able to bring six different wheelchairs but it was not clear if these chairs would fit the patients. Before it was time to take the wheelchairs to the patients, I had to unpack and reassemble several of them. In the process, I discovered that an important bolt that supports the backrest had fallen out of the chair. I was very disappointed as this particular type of bolt is custom to this wheelchair and I was sure that we would not have a suitable bolt to replace it. I went ahead and looked in the kit we brought; there was one random bolt that someone had thrown in that was a perfect fit! That trend of perfect fit continued as we went to each patient’s home. On multiple occasions we selected a wheelchair to try with a particular patient and every part of the wheelchair was a perfect fit. It is clearly God’s hand guiding us and providing for the needs of our patients.
The special project was a custom lift built to help a mother transfer her child that has grown too big to transfer by herself. Many people pitched in to build and test the lift (thanks to Jessica, Neal, and Emily). It turned out great and will be a nice help to this family.
Wednesday, December 18, 2019
Today started with a celebration of December birthdays at the clinic, including Bev! The Haitian staff went out of their way to include us in this celebration, which has not happened in previous years. I think we can thank our entertaining acting skills for showing them that we know how to have fun too. We got to laugh, be goofy, and fellowship alongside them as part of their staff.
We had 4+ patients travel an hour to come to Bethesda that we treated at the mobile clinic last week. One even showed up carrying a full sack of fresh plantains and avocados. Disclaimer: Haitian avocados are much larger and harder which could account for our previous back pain patient.
The man with the plantains from the mobile clinic was a man who had a long history of swelling in both of his knee joints. I (Abbey) got to treat him last week and when I recommended he come to Bethesda for X-Rays he said he could not pay, but would find the resources for a motorcycle to get him there. He also promised 10 plantains when he showed up. And boy, did he show up! With a massive bag of plantains and two avocados to boot! He was all smiles and so excited to see us again. I got to follow him through the entire medical center process of getting registered, getting his X-Ray pictures taken on an antiquated machine, getting the film developed in a completely black room, to visiting with the nurse in a small exam room, tracking down the Doctor across the campus, and getting him the medication and treatment he needed for his swelling. While that may sound like the least exhilarating day to any American that has used the U.S. healthcare system, it was one of my favorite days. The Plantain Man was carefully watched over and taken care of, he was listened to, and his story was considered by every medical professional he saw today. How many of us can say that? God used us to show the Plantain Man his importance, to show him community and love.
Another woman came in expressing pure gratitude for our time with her and stated it was the highlight of her week. She stated that me (Tara) praying for her was incredibly powerful to her, and renewed her faith and hope in her life. I was able to create a fun modified kickboxing program to help improve her Parkinson’s-like symptoms. She had an enormous smile on her face the entire treatment, and filled the room with positivity, joy, and laughter. It was empowering to me to use such creativity to make such a fun and therapeutic day for her, with minimal equipment. At the end, we had a powerful talk about God’s provisions, plan, and timing. Despite having daily struggles, she had full confidence that God has a plan in her life. The emotions expressed throughout her sessions and our heart-felt talks were incredibly moving and inspiring for me.
We also were able to co-treat a few complex pediatric patients. It was inspiring to all work together to make functional improvements in each kids life. It is so cool to leave Bolivar having the same basic knowledge of a specialty field, go our separate ways to different clinical experiences, and reunite in Haiti to collaborate and provide the best possible treatment for the most precious kiddos.
All over the clinic, PTs were having uplifting conversations about who God is and His role in our lives with the patients. Stepping stones are being laid with an open path ready for these patients to start a journey with Christ.
Haitian PTs are being trained with sustainable information and educated with material that will lead them forward in their careers. Wheelchairs are being fitted, lifts are being manufactured, and equipment is being supplied for those in need. Big things are happening every day!
-Tara and Abbey