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Blessings in a Time of Turmoil

We had the pleasure of hosting another hard-working team from Avera Health Systems in SD two weeks ago. They were able to fly to and from Jeremie, alleviating safety risks from the political instability here in Haiti. The team included team leader Kathy English, RN and her husband, Dr. Gil English. Gil is an OB/gyn physician and he does all of our cervical cancer screening follow up for patients who receive Pap smears with us. Also in the group was Annie Thury, a nurse practitioner who saw patients and did Pap smears, radiology technician/instructor Susan Calmus and nurses Barb Pratt, Kailey Louwagie, Meagan Hoflock, Shemayne Bray and Tara Krege. Kathy, Gil, Barb and Susan have been with us in the past and the others experienced Haiti and FHH for the first time! Here is the team:

Top row:  Shemayne, Kailey, Tara    Bottom row:  Susan, Annie, Kathy, Dr. English, Barb, Meagan

Top row: Shemayne, Kailey, Tara Bottom row: Susan, Annie, Kathy, Dr. English, Barb, Meagan

The team and our staff saw close to 300 patients for the week, although patient volume was lower than usual due to lack of gasoline for motorcycle taxis. Dr. English and Annie did lots of Pap smears and Gil followed up on abnormal results with colposcopy (basically looking at the cervix with a magnifier).

Dr. English performing a colposcopy on a patient with an abnormal Pap smear

He also did lots of ultrasound exams.

Dr. English and Susan do an ultrasound on a pregnant patient.

Our radiology and ultrasound equipment had technical problems on the second day of their visit, so Susan spent much of her time trouble-shooting and calling back and forth to the US for assistance. In spite of all the difficulties, she remained positive and enthusiastic, pitching in to help wherever there was a need.

Susan and Tara help sort children’s clothing in the clinic.

Meanwhile, nurse Kathy English was enjoying getting close to the pediatric patients, including this little girl, one of triplets brought to the clinic for a checkup. She was the smallest of the three, weighing 1kg (2.2 pounds) at birth! She was 2.1kg (4.6 pounds) at this visit.

Kathy holds the smallest of triplet girls.

Mom and Grandma brought these precious little triplet girls to the clinic for evaluation.

Whenever Avera teams come to visit, they enjoy doing some patient teaching, especially related to dental hygiene.

Tara, Meagan and Shemayne teach our patients about tooth care and dental hygiene with the assistance of translator Wilder

Dental teaching wouldn’t be as much fun without the assistance of a green crocodile with large teeth. The croc was a gift from Avera to our clinic.

Meagan uses the croc to show proper brushing technique.

In addition to patient teaching, the team distributed crafts to the patients waiting on the front porch for consultation. The crafts were put together by folks from my home church in NJ, Kingston Presbyterian Church, and were intended to help patients keep busy while waiting for their turn to be seen. Each person received a plastic bag with string and beads and they diligently made bracelets and necklaces for themselves with the help of the Avera team. It was an exciting endeavor and proved that when many hands are joined together, good work gets done!

Barb distributes bags of beads and strings to waiting patients.

Kathy holds one end of the string while a patient threads beads on the other end.

Patient shows off her new necklace and bracelet.

Much thanks to the congregation of Kingston Presbyterian Church in NJ for their creative idea and the Avera team, who were ready for any challenge.

Nurse Practitioner Annie Thury helped do patient consultations all week as well as doing some routine Pap smears. She did a great job in diagnosing and treating the patients she saw and helped reduce the burden on me. We loved having her with us!

Nurse practitioner Annie doing a consultation on one of our elderly patients.

It’s always nice to have other physicians and nurse practitioners around to discuss interesting cases. With my exam room right next to Annie’s room, there was a lot of back and forth discussion!

Dr. Wolf and Annie discuss patient care.

Cherlie, meanwhile, was helping the Avera nurses distribute clothes, shoes, infant caps and other gifts that were sent down to our clinic by the good people of SD, Iowa, Nebraska, and Minnesota. Winters are long out there in the Midwest and the women love making lovely handmade items to bless our patients.

Little albino girl sizes up a new pillowcase dress.

Cherlie and Barb demonstrate the use of an infant carrier.

We always enjoy having visiting medical teams go out into the rural Haiti communities to do some health teaching and do blood pressure screening. This group went to a community called Menat, where we have our volunteer Community Promoters working. Here are some scenes from their day:

The meeting was held in a small rural church in Menat, decorated up for the occasion.

The team of nurses taught people about hypertension.

Kailey and Meagan check blood pressures on people who came to the meeting.

Shemayne did some extra teaching outside the church.

Tara made some fast friends.

The Avera nurses with our Promoter Fritzner Charles.

One of the wonderful things about visitors is that they bless us with their creative photos. Here is one for everyone to enjoy:

Meagan stands in front of the fog-filled valley behind the clinic.

Much thanks to another wonderful team from Avera. We were blessed by your presence with us.

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