Saturday, July 11, 2009

Back up!

Saturday, July 11 at 7:00 AM

Late Wednesday evening brought the return on Shaun Cleaver, Physical Therapist, to campus. He stopped by to chat with Duane and I around 8:00 PM. Shaun has been in Haiti for 2 years or so and is a model for PT’s who might strive to do this kind of work. He is completely fluent in Kreyol--amazingly so. He is well known on campus and at HAS and much liked and admired for the work he has done. Note to academic programs everywhere--are we encouraging our students to consider international work? Providing experiences for them while they are in school???? Are we, as licensed professionals modeling that behavior???

From my standpoint, though, Shaun’s return has meant that I had BACK UP. He has provided much needed and appreciated help with the students. I had been struggling to find activities to keep the students occupied at the hospital for what I perceived to be a full day of clinical work. It turns out that the students were expecting to be there no longer than the number of hours that they had been in class. They took the student contract that they signed at the onset of the program very literally. Shaun was able to negotiate freely with them in Kreyol and we have come to a compromise that involves moving the start time earlier to accommodate ward rounds, a longer lunch break, and finishing within the total number of hours that they expected. This type of negotiation would never have been possible through the substitute translator that we have had for the past 2 days. Back to the need for more skill in languages . . .

So my Kreyol lessons continue with some rescheduling for the days that it rained around class time. My instructor arrives on a bicycle and pedaling in a tropical downpour just doesn’t work. I have much empathy for the ESL students that I see struggling to learn at NDSM each week.

Thursday brought a shared laugh that I will treasure. There is a Haitian LVN who has been trained to do some limited physical therapy services and is doing so while the more formal program continues to prepare the Rehabilitation Technicians (my students). She was on the surgical ward helping the nurses there by putting in an IV. The details are too long to ramble on about, but the bottom line is that I watched and wondered about what exactly was going on with the patient. Then in the most calm, nonjudgmental voice I could muster, I asked my translator to ask her a question about the situation. She told me and laughed. I, too, laughed at the answer. It felt like a breakthrough. She was comfortable enough with me to answer my question about something that looked a little amiss without becoming defensive or evasive.

Overall, Ghislaine, the LVN above who is doing some physical therapy, has been remarkably open to having me around invading her world. The first week here, I shadowed her a couple of times to familiarize myself with the patients in preparation for assigning them to the students. After she saw one patient who became dizzy after walking for the first time, she gave me a brief lecture on postural hypotension. I did my best to look concerned and grateful for this “new” information. Apparently it worked, as she has answered “pas gan problem” to all of my requests. Would I do the same for a foreigner who suddenly began buzzing around in my work space???

Thursday evening Duane and I hosted Dr. Daniel Perez and Danny Malebranche for dinner. Dr. Perez is a surgeon from Switzerland who has returned for a 3 week stint, and brought along Danny who is a third year medical student. Danny is of Haitian descent, both of his parents are Haitian, but this is his first trip to Haiti! We had a fascinating evening talking about their lives and bemoaning the rapidly decaying condition of the orthopedic surgical instruments here that turned a simple 45 minute femur fixation into a 4 hour improvised ordeal. Dr. Perez is determined to return to Switzerland and talk to a manufacturer there about some new donated orthopedic equipment. Anyone out there have some connections???

Last night was wonderfully cool after the rain and this has been a cool early morning. I am afraid that is rapidly changing, so will head to the library to get this posted, then over to strategize with Shaun at 9:00.

“Mom” has been receiving frequent updates about Em from her new best friends, John and Hannelore Daniel, who are generously caring for her while I am gone. She is feasting on dog food with chicken broth, has learned to use the dog door and finds this quite convenient, and takes daytime naps on John’s bed! She is having such a good time with her new person friends and their 2 dogs that I am not sure she will want to move back to East Dallas! We’ll see.

Thanks for all your email notes. Half of my time here is done and time is flying by. See you back in the USA. Judy

July 11 at 8:45 AM
As I entered the hospital to post this entry and passed by the intake area I ran into one of my students who was standing by an elderly woman on a stretcher. It is his Mother who is here with severe vomiting. I helped him push her stretcher and the IV pole to the lab for tests ordered by the MD. Life here is so uncertain . . . . .Plsease add them both to the prayer list.

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