I wanted to give you a little update about our clinic opening on the 28th of August. There were over 100 people waiting for us when we arrived at the little house where we were to hold the clinic. We took in all our supplies and medications and got all set up, then greeted everyone and had prayer with them. We couldn’t see everyone that day, so we gave out tickets for Thursday, which was our next clinic session. Things went pretty well, and everyone seemed to be happy with their consultations and medications. We haven’t yet hired any staff, so we have to do everything ourselves. Cherlie registers people and collects their consultation fee, then does their vital signs and I see them in consultation. After I’ve seen them, the patient and I discuss what medications they need and what they have money for, and then either Cherlie or I sell them the meds and give them their instructions. It goes a bit slowly because of our extra duties, but gives us more chance to interact with the patients.
Anyway, things went well the first day and we saw about 35 patients. As we were packing up to go home, someone brought us a letter written by the local government committee. It said they wanted to meet with us as soon as possible. When we asked why, we were told that they thought our consultation fee was too high and they wanted us to change it (we charge full price for adults and half price for children and pregnant women). Needless to say, it was not what we wanted to hear on our first day! But, we’ve had a chance to interact with people about it since then, and feel that, for now, we should stick with our price and re-evaluate further down the road. It would be very harmful politically to let the local leaders dictate what we do per se, although they will certainly have a voice, along with other communities’ leaders in what we do in the future. We have had anywhere from 10-20 patients a day since then, and no one has had a problem paying the consultation fee and buying medications. We’ve let it be known that we will not turn anyone away because of lack of money, but, obviously want to avoid having people say they’re poor when they’re not. Payment is a difficult situation for any medical facility.
We have had some positive feedback regarding our quality of care. One of our Haitian friends here in Jeremie overheard a man talking about his son, who I had seen in consultation last week. He apparently hadn’t been able to eat well, and now, after taking the medication I prescribed, is eating everything in the house! So, the father was thrilled. I also saw the mother of the government official who had signed the letter to us that first day. She told him what a “beautiful” consultation she had with us, where we explained everything about her illness and prescribed medication that gave her relief of her long-standing abdominal pain. So, he told others that he was ashamed to have signed the letter that day, since it was such a gift for the community to have a clinic like this in their midst.
We feel, as always here, that it’s two steps forward and one step back, as we continue on this journey the Lord has placed before us. It has become increasingly more difficult to work in Haiti, because of distrust towards foreigners that has developed in the past few years as well as the worsened economic condition of the people. So, we need lots of stamina and a firm belief that we’re doing this for the Lord, and not for men. But, the Lord gives us just a little bit of encouragement once in awhile, and helps us to see that our progress, though measured in inches rather than miles, is significant.