Wednesday is always a challenging day on these trips. It's the day that we pack up everything we need for a mobile clinic and drive to a remote site that does not have reliable medical care.
We had two dentists on this trip, so that meant we were also going to be moving a dental clinic with us. Also, we were providing supervision to some physical therapy students from a new physical therapy school in an adjacent town. So, all of those physical therapy students were traveling with us as well. And, of course, the members of our team doing school lessons would be providing a "back yard Bible club" experience to the children while we provided health care.
After adding a bus driver and a few mission folks, 38 people loaded onto a bus that should hold about 20 (3 to a seat on most benches) and took off on a harrowing trip up into the mountains of southern Haiti. There are not enough scopolamine patches nor Zofran tablets in the world to quell the motion sickness of swerving up a "road" that looked more like a mogul run on a ski slope back home. Even one of the Haitian interpreters was hurling into her purse in the back of the bus!
Just when we thought we had arrived, as we passed the location we had provided the clinic services last year, we turned off the main road and traveled another mile on a dirt cow path. It was so narrow that we literally knocked the mirror off the bus as we parked beside this unassuming cinder block rectangular building. (NO loss on the mirror . . . mirrors are not used much in Haiti. From my observation, you just back up until you hit something!)
The building could not have been bigger than 20' x 40'. It was surrounded with makeshift benches covered with throngs of people waiting to be seen. Inside the building, school was in session. There were probably 100 schoolchildren, dressed in their red plaid school uniforms, taking lessons in the dark (no electricity). They were packed in like sardines. At one end of the building was a raised area that obviously served as a pulpit. This building was a multi-purpose structure that served as the center of the community.
I looked around and thought, “Oh my word! How in the world are we going to pull off a clinic in this space?” Then, in typical fashion, God showed up.
In the matter of one hour, we cleared the students and set up a full medical and dental clinic with triage, lab station, four examination bays, a full pharmacy, and two fully functioning dental chairs. We also had a physical therapy station and an area for kids' lessons and day camp.
Over the next several hours, four medical providers saw 200 patients! The dental clinic saw over 20 patients, including cleanings and extractions. The physical therapists provided care to multiple patients with musculoskeletal complaints. One particular patient caught my attention. Based on her presentation of the acute onset of left-sided weakness, including a blood pressure of 220/120,we realized that she had likely experienced a middle cerebral artery stroke in the last 48 hours.
The diagnosis was made based on symptoms alone. Back home, that patient would have qualified for a "code stroke" protocol, including stat CT and MRI tests, and admission to a neuro-ICU unit. She would have been placed on anti-coagulation and multiple medications. That Wednesday, we offered her what we had… basic blood pressure medications and physical therapy. As I watched the physical therapy team work with this patient and her family, I realized this would be the only intervention she would have as rehabilitation for her stroke. That we even had a physical therapy presence on our team was divine intervention. It was beautiful.
When I took a short break from seeing patients long enough to grab a sandwich and "visit the loo," I was delighted to see my mom dancing around the cinder block building with a tambourine around her neck and droves of kids following her. I heard them singing songs and giggling with delight. As the day camp team played games and handed out treats, I realized many of these kids may have never seen a tambourine or tasted a Skittle. It was truly amazing. And, I walked past the dental team, hearing the hum of a generator and the buzz of drills, I saw the dental team pulling teeth with skill and acumen. I realized that God could certainly bring order out of our chaos. We had pulled it off.
Or, rather, God had pulled it off. Medical clinic, dental clinic, physical therapy gym and back yard Bible club. Walking back from the "latrine," I looked out on that plain, over the mountains of Haiti, past that tiny block building and I heard this verse:
For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16-17)
Oh me, of little faith. God is bigger than all things. He had pulled this day together. And, He had reminded me that even when I cannot see how He is working, He is holding all things together.
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