While speaking about her most recent trip to Haiti this summer, Dr. Patricia Curtin White ’80 felt a lump in her throat. “What a meaningful week,” she mused, “it’s always hard to leave, and when you do, that week just stays with you.” From June 18 to June 25, Dr. Curtin White, a dedicated Haiti Program volunteer, led a team of 20 physicians, nurses, students, and non-medical professionals—including the families of alumni physicians—on a service trip to Haiti.
The work began months before their arrival in Leogane, as the volunteers secured donations of funds, medications, medical supplies, and reading glasses from volunteers and benefactors including healthcare networks, schools, and corporations. Then, over the course of seven days in Haiti, the team completed numerous inventory checks, restocked their supply kits multiple times, visited two orphanages, and set up four mobile clinics.
The team set up makeshift mobile clinics wherever they could: church halls, schools, or under palm trees. Speaking of the logistics, Dr. Curtin White said, “Here in the U.S., you’d submit a work order, but in Haiti the community comes together” to find and set up tables and chairs as work stations.
At each clinic, more than 100 patients of all ages received screenings for diabetes, hypertension, infections, and lymphatic filariasis (LF). Patients also received vital medications and referrals to the Haiti Program’s LF clinic.
On Tuesday, the team of volunteers set up a mobile clinic to tend to the care of the people of St. Rose of Lima Parish. Then on Wednesday, the volunteers moved the clinic to Lakil Beach. There, as some students and nurses recorded intake information, physicians treated 130 patients, and the mobile pharmacy filled their prescriptions. While all of this was going on, other student volunteers kicked a ball around with the soccer-loving children.
The next stop on Thursday was the remote Hopital St. Croix (HSC) clinic in the mountains above Leogane, followed by another HSC clinic in the rural beach community of Bossan on Friday.
The final, brief stop on Friday was the idyllic Taino Beach to wind down and have some fun. As they surveyed the crafts being sold and exchanged “bonjou’s” and “hey you’s” with the Haitian children on the beach, the volunteers had the chance to see a different aspect of Haiti and interact with the Haitian people in a different way.
Dr. Curtin White reflected on the trip fondly and pointed out, “The Haitians are so grateful for everything, and they never ask for more than they need. We might just take a history and give them some vitamins, but it’s as though we’ve given them the world.”
Originally published by Chontel Syfox at science.nd.edu on September 15, 2016.