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Blog: Scenes from a Mobile Clinic

Patients frequently travel for hours to get to St. Boniface Hospital, but sometimes the hospital sends doctors and nurses out to them.  The hospital runs an average of 3 mobile clinics a week in surrounding communities.  Each mobile clinic day, a mountain of supplies is strapped to an ambulance roof, and doctors, nurses, and archivists pile in for a long days’ visit to a remote town.  It can be quite expensive for patients to travel to St. Boniface itself.  To help as many people as possible, mobile clinics trek through mud and over broken roads to provide much needed care.

Mobile clinics are often set up in churches or schools, and people come from all over to see the doctor.  These pictures are from a maternal and child health clinic held early in November at a school in Oranger Laurants, an hour and a half’s journey of 12 kilometers from the St. Boniface Hospital.  Class was dismissed for the day to make room for the clinic, and many mothers brought infants suffering from fevers and colds caused by the rainy season.

One doctor and two nurses saw nearly 130 patients over the course of a long, hot day.  Mothers and children sit on low benches waiting to see the archivist first, to retrieve their charts.  The room where the nurses work is not for the faint of heart, as two nurses bustle around weighing and measuring in a room crowded with crying infants.  In the classroom next door there is another line to see the doctor, who works through the deluge of patients quickly and calmly.  The final stop is the makeshift pharmacy the nurses have set up, filled with antibiotics and nutrition supplements.  All care provided by St. Boniface is free, and no one is ever turned away.

In line, mothers calm sick babies.  This is some of the only medical care they receive, and is crucial for catching malnutrition, pneumonia, and gastrointestinal problems before they cause death in young, vulnerable children.  Antibiotics have provided simple, life-saving treatment for decades, but in Haiti it is still a struggle to get them to patients who need them.  The mobile clinic brings these medicines to mothers and children who struggle to reach the St. Boniface hospital and pharmacy.

There are a few fathers waiting as well, such as Emil, a 26-year-old motorcycle taxi driver here with his wife, Kia.  They are very proud of their first child, a normally happy baby who is sick today with a fever and cold.  Nearby, first grade teacher Josephine sits with her two daughters and a friend’s son as she visits for a prenatal checkup; thankfully everyone in her family is healthy today.

Emil, Kia, and their son

At the end of the day, the pharmacy supplies are almost gone, the ham sandwiches sent for the medical team are definitely gone, and the equipment is secured on top of the ambulance for the bumpy trip back.  Local mothers hoist water jugs and children and begin the trip back home, sometimes an hour’s walk away.  For families who cannot afford to get all the way to the hospital, these mobile clinics can be vitally important for keeping children and mothers healthy, and for putting smiles back on children’s faces.

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