Guyana Watch off to a good start
Treats 700 patients in just two days
Hundreds of West Bank Demerara residents took advantage of the free clinic offered by the Guyana Watch Medical team yesterday at the Patentia Secondary School.
All told, 525 persons in total turned out at the clinic yesterday, among them 169 children. There were 53 dental visits.
This clinic was the team’s second of seven.
Barely here for little more than 24 hours the team has already seen and treated almost seven hundred patients. Their target for this visit is 3,500 to 4,000 patients.
On Thursday afternoon, just a few hours after touching down, the entire group made its way down to the Sad’r Boys Orphanage in Kitty where the team saw 145 children.
The children came from six homes – the Sad’r Boys and Girls Orphanage, the Blessed Children’s Home in Industry, the Hadfield Street Drop-in-Center, the Sophia Care Center and the Mahaica Children’s Home. All of the children were given a check up by the doctors, and paid visits to the dentists for those who needed extractions and cleaning.
Care givers also came along to highlight any long standing complaints that the children might have had.
Yesterday, the team got off to an earlier start, getting to the Patentia Secondary School and setting up the clinic in the morning. The 27-strong team boasts 12 medical doctors, two dentists, one pharmacist and 12 volunteers. But still they needed a host of local volunteers when they got down to work yesterday.
Dr. Kevin McAbe, who is back for his second year with the team, said that last year he was excited and interested, the clinic was something new to look forward to. But this year he finds himself returning for a different reason.
The young doctor noted that the clinic is about more than just ‘seeing people’. He finds that the gratitude and appreciation shown by the hundreds of patients refreshes his dedication to the profession.
He said that in these days of malpractice suits and insurance issues in his country; the outreach and its patients keep him grounded and remind him of why he got into the field of medicine and caring for those in need of it in the first place.
And apparently Dr. McAbe gets as good as he gives. He pointed out that not having all of the diagnostic equipment and facilities that he has got accustomed to at his
fingertips forces a doctor to think outside of the box.
Since it is not possible to send for a quick x-ray or scan, a doctor needs to go back to basics to diagnose some of the issues that these patients come with and it proves to be not only a rewarding experience but also a learning one as well since many of the doctors tend to see cases that they may not have encountered in their practices back home in the United States.
Dr. McAbe enjoyed his last visit with Guyana Watch so much that he convinced a med school classmate and good friend of his, Dr. Mike Lowney to accompany him this year.
Dr. Lowney gave his impressions of the clinics and the patients as a first timer, saying that the patients were not only appreciative of the care but they were polite and very respectful.
He seems to already be getting attached to the cause because he has started wondering what will happen when the three to six months worth of medication that the patients are given runs out.
He therefore takes a little time on patient education, telling people what their illness is, how it needs to be treated and encouraging them to seek follow up care.
Dr. Natacha Tamdji, who was here last year, does the same with her patients as do most of the doctors who recognize that their intervention is just a passing one.
She says that drugs and medicines are a problem at times. In some cases the limited pharmacy of the team may not have the drugs that she wishes to prescribe and in others the patients themselves are taking medications that they cannot name and that even the doctors may not be able to identify.
Dr. Jackie Marston, a first timer, said yesterday that she has thus far found the experience to be an enjoyable and rewarding one. She noted that in many cases there are patients suffering with undiagnosed chronic diseases and she hopes that now that they are diagnosed and informed, they may seek the necessary care and do what needs to be done to take care of their health.
Another first timer on the team is Dr. Christina Persaud. Born Guyanese, she migrated with her parents when she was just two years old and has returned with the team. She said that she heard about the team and tracked it down with the intention of accompanying the members on their 2011 Mission.
The doctors shared their observations on the kind of ailments that the patients are reporting. So far there have been cases of undiagnosed diabetes and hypertension, cases of asthma, tinia, cataracts, undiagnosed allergies that many patients keep calling colds, and arthritis.
This year the team is administering steroid injections to those with serious arthritic pains. The steroids allow them to be pain free for several months at a time and while the fix is not permanent, the patients do at least gain some amount of relief in the joint.
Today the team will be visiting Essequibo and will be at the Anna Regina Secondary School which is one clinic where, according to one repeat doctor, they find some of their healthiest patients.