We hosted another wonderful Avera medical team from South Dakota at the end of February, and I think they were glad to escape the cold and snow of winter.  January, February and March are ideal months to visit here in Haiti, since it’s pleasantly warm without the humid heat of the summer.  This year was no exception.

The Avera team was a productive group and included nine people:  Dr. Gil English, OB/gyn physician and his wife Kathy, who coordinates all the Avera teams, Dr. Jay Allison, a Core Faculty member in the Sioux Falls Family Medicine Residency Program, Dr. Kathleen Haight, a resident physician in Dr. Jay’s program, nurses Shari Platek, Barb Pratt, Alma Kooistra and Gerri Malsom and Gerri’s husband Jerome who is an all-around mechanic and handyman.

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The Avera team:(Top left) Gerri Malsom, Dr. Gil English, Jerome Malsom, Dr. Kathleen Haight, Barb Pratt.  (Bottom left) Shari Platek, Dr. Jay Allison, Kathy English, Alma Kooistra.

One highlight of the week was that Dr. English brought with him a LEEP machine, so that he will be able to intervene and potentially cure patients who have abnormal Pap smears.  Avera teams have been doing Pap smears for our patients for several years, but we’ve had to refer patients with abnormal results to local gynecologists in Jérémie.  Unfortunately, many of them never follow up as we advise, due to lack of financial resources.  Now, thanks to Dr. English, he is able to provide colposcopy and definitive treatment with the LEEP machine for those patients who have abnormal findings suggesting that they may be developing cancer of the cervix.

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Dr. English consults with a patient in our clinic, using our little portable ultrasound machine to show her what’s in her abdomen.

Dr. English also helps see some general medical patients and is quite adept at treating adults with hypertension and acid reflux.  As shown by the photo below, he and his wife seem to be preparing to do some dental hygiene teaching as well:

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Kathy and Dr. Gil English practice using our stuffed crocodile to demonstrate good tooth brushing technique.

We are pleased to be working with Dr. Jay Allison, a Core Faculty member in the Sioux Falls Family Medicine Residency Program, in developing a global health rotation in Haiti for family medicine residents.  Dr. Jay visited us on this trip in order to experience our clinic and community development programs first hand.  He was accompanied by Dr. Kathleen Haight, who is a second year resident in the program.  They both helped consult our clinic patients and Dr. Jay also helped me learn to use our new video gastroscope, which was donated to us by Avera.   He also showed Cherlie the proper cleaning procedure for the scope.


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Dr. Jay examining one of our clinic patients



Dr. Jay shows Dr. Wolf how to use the new video gastroscope, with Cherlie and Kathy looking on.


The suction machine that attaches to the gastroscope was graciously donated to us by a Hoven Hospital in Hoven, South Dakota.  Gerri and Jerome Malsom acquired the suction machine on our behalf.

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Gerri and Jerome Malsom point out the wonderful donated suction machine that attaches to the gastroscope


Shari, Barb, Gerri and Jerome have been down here to work with us before and we were thrilled to see them again.  They settled into our work routine without a hitch and helped out tremendously with the large patient load.  I got a little break with three other physicians present!  What a joy to have them with us.

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Dr. Kathleen and Barb take a break at the end of a busy clinic day



Shari assisted Dr. Haight in her examination room, including giving out these “peri kits” to young female patients.


Weed wacker

Jerome helped Lubin, our yard worker, learn to use a new weed-wacker to trim the weeds around the clinic.  It certainly works better than a machete!


Alma is also a nurse and this was her first visit with us in Gatineau.  She spent most of the week with Cherlie, weighing patients and taking their vital signs.  Of course, she also helped give out gifts to the children.


Alma stands in Cherlie’s nursing room in front of a table full of children’s clothing  and gifts.  It appears that she enjoyed the gift giving as much as the nursing!


We tried a new community activity with this enthusiastic Avera team – sending some of them up high in the mountains to a community where we have volunteer Community Promoters.  They walked for an hour up a steep mountain to get to a church where they met with local people and did some medical teaching with them.  The team then checked everyone’s blood pressure and gave them a referral card to come to the clinic when they found blood pressures that were elevated.  This service was very much appreciated and the following week we saw over 25 patients who had been referred to us from the community visit.  Thank you, Avera, for your enthusiastic participation.


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The church was full of people who came to participate in a community meeting with our staff and the Avera team


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Dr. Jay checks a blood pressure


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The team members consult together as they work.  In the foreground is Anisah, a fourth year medical student from MCW.


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