Katwetwe

6:40 AM and I had strategically placed myself in front of the peanut butter and jelly at breakfast. Necessary, completely necessary. That coffee.. I will say it again and again… lifesaving-ly delicious. Maybe I need some tutoring on how to make good coffee? I don’t know. But I swear, it was/is that good. Every morning we had a devotional or inspiration from one of our team members; something I truly miss. That particular morning we all received a little added bonus pep-talk from Claire regarding our bowels. We were in a different country eating different foods so things were likely to get “dicey.” Yes, dicey is the exact word she used. And she was right. Before the trip, we were all advised to bring along some Tums or Pepto Bismol… and now we knew why. An educational and funny way to begin the morning; it was also confirmation for me that I was with the right group of people.

Friends helping friends when things get "dicey."
Friends helping friends when things get “dicey.”

How does that cheer go? Roll call, check us out, chick-a-boom… yeah that one. Well, Team Awesome was all about some of that roll call. Dicey bowels and all. Starting with ‘1 is the loneliest number…’ {Sorry, I’ll stop with the inside jokes and cut to the chase. Can you tell I miss my PMI family?} Roll call, pile into the vans and off to Katwetwe we went. Our mission? Take names, own our first clinic day and change lives. When we arrived, the line of people waiting for us was longer than I could have ever imagined. As soon as the van doors opened, everyone hit the ground running. Registration, Runners, Triage, Providers, Therapy, Glasses, Pharmacy, Prayer Team, Family Planning and Kid’s Ministry; bins were taken to the appropriate location and magic happened.

Ready for our first day of clinic!
Ready for our first day of clinic!

All of those people waiting in line to receive care… guess who was in charge of getting them registered? You guessed it! Myself and our lovely registration team leader, Jill. Hope was already bustin’ a move and telling the translators where to go. Jimmy was our man for the day in registration so Jill and I grabbed our clipboards and literally started to take names.

Unloading the vans in Katwetwe.
Unloading the vans in Katwetwe.

Each patient was given a wristband with a number that corresponded to the number on their information sheet along with their name and age. Boom. Boom. Boom; men, women and children. We went right down the line. Jimmy had clearly done this all before. Each person whose name I took, I gave them a smile. That was the least I could do. Some of them reached out their hands and as I took theirs in mine – it was an immediate connection of friendship. While Jill and I did the paperwork, Allie began going down the line getting people’s weights.

Allie getting a child's weight.
Allie getting a child’s weight.

After the patients were registered and their weight recorded, they were taken into triage. Everyone was given a vitamin and deworming medicine, vital signs were done and the patient was asked about their chief complaint(s). Once the patient was finished in triage, they waited to see one of our amazing providers. Our provider team consisted of doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants who diagnosed the patients and then sent them to the pharmacy, therapy, glasses, family planning and/or our prayer team. Within two hours we had already registered over one hundred patients. Our cutoff for the day was two hundred and fifty. As we moved on down the line, the sun was getting HOT. My kids SPF 50 didn’t feel like it was even doing the job. Further on down the line of people I could hear a child coughing – not just a little cough. It sounded horrible. Newman, the PMI director, had told us to use our judgment and if we thought someone needed to be treated right away then we could move them to the front of the line. When I walked up to the mother and her two children, I wasn’t prepared for what I encountered. The child coughing was only a few months old and the sibling, maybe two or three years of age, was clearly in distress crying. A two month old with a terrible cough just didn’t settle for a wristband and a piece of paper. To me, it was a red flag. We quickly got them registered, I scooped up the little boy, who clung to me for dear life – snot, tears and all – and mom followed me into the triage room with the baby. {At the end of the day we discovered that the baby had pertussis and a few of the providers began taking antibiotics to protect themselves. Red flag indeed.}

 

This little nugget was completely healthy and became my little companion for part of the day. Whilst putting ground nuts in her mouth and mom yelling at her to spit them out, I waved to her. She crawled right over to me and reached up for me to hold her. LOVE.

This little nugget was completely healthy and became my little companion for part of the day. Whilst putting ground nuts in her mouth and mom yelling at her to spit them out, I waved to her. She crawled right over to me and reached up for me to hold her. LOVE.

As we continued to register patients, our cut-off of 250 people was getting closer and closer yet the line was getting longer. This wasn’t about to go over well. Newman, Hope and Jimmy went to the end of the line and explained to the villagers that we were at a maximum for the day. If they wanted to be seen, they could come back tomorrow or go to the Masindi Kitara Medial Centre. And then our guards had to get involved because no-one liked what we had to say and people began arguing. We had been told in the beginning that turning people away was one of the most difficult parts of working registration. That is absolutely correct. All of our patients had been registered. My next task became running. If you know me well, you know that I don’t run… ever. If and when I do, it is an automatic fail. Well, good thing as a ‘runner’ there was no actual running involved. We took patients to and from triage, the providers, therapy and pharmacy; giving hugs, snuggling babies and playing with some of the older kids may or may not have happened also 😉 My job as runner soon fizzled as we were well staffed in that area.

Hope said that I could go pair up with a provider and recommended Judy. She was a retired nurse practitioner and simply excellent with all of her patients. When I sat down next to her she was in the middle of diagnosing a young girl with anemia and round worms. After the diagnosis was made, the provider explained to patient what the cause of their ailment was and how we were going to treat it. We sent the little girl to the pharmacy to wait on her medication. It blew my mind how many young kids were at the cliic by themselves… Our next patient was a mom, clearly about to pop, and her twelve year old daughter, Janet. Both were just absoloutely beautiful beings. At twelve years old, Janet weighed a mere 35lbs but her smile lit up the room. Judy diagnosed her with malnutrition, scabies and head lice. While the scabies and lice were easily treated – the same didn’t go for the fact that she was malnourished. We gave her some kids multi-vitamins and made suggestions as to what she should eat more of. Since Judy was strictly a pediatric NP, we sent mom over to one of the medical residents to be seen. Her chief complaint was back pain which wasn’t a shocker due to her pregnancy. In fact, several of us were convinced that she was carrying twins. Her provider, Wes, highly encouraged her to go to MKMC to receive antenatal care.

Janet. Such a stunning young lady.

Janet. Such a stunning young lady.

After 250 patients had been seen by the providers, the pharmacy got a little backed up… what the heck, I was here to learn so why not finish out the day with a pill party. (I’m totes joking.) But I did begin to learn the ways of the pharmacy and how to fill prescriptions. In fact, there were a few of us who filtered in to help them out. As a technician we were responsible for filling the scripts. Then our two wonderful pharmacists, Carrie and Audrey, checked them over before one of the runners and their translator gave them to the patient. The process began to move a little quicker and before we knew it, our first official clinic day had come to a close. SUCCESS.

Sunset at the hotel after our first clinic day.

Sunset at the hotel after our first clinic day.

Maybe I’m just speaking on behalf of myself but when I returned to the hotel for dinner, I felt and smelled comparable to an animal on Old MacDonald’s farm. Dinner was wonderful. There were a bunch of shout-outs for everyone’s hard work on our first day and we heard a few life stories.

Our clinic day in Katwetwe was nothing shy of phenomenal but nothing could compare to the shower that I was desperately in need of. Round two in the same village tomorrow. Whoop! Whoop!

Love.

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