Friday, March 20, 2015

January 12 - Clinic Day 1

Waking up at Her Farm for the first time was unforgettable - the view of the mountains and the villages below was serene and centering, and a sharp contrast to the bustling city life of Kathmandu. I awoke more excited that day than any other of the trip, knowing we were getting to the real meat of our stay there. I was looking forward to seeing how Swastha Nepal's second ever clinic would unfold, three years after the first. We had picked up a doctor in town the day before, and had the nurses with us at the farm; flyers had previously been put up at the government health post and around town, to let people know about the clinic.
In Nepal, mornings are much slower than they are in the U.S. and the "work day" does not really begin until the afternoon. After breakfast, and a few hours of journaling and exploring the farm, we made our way to the small clinic that is on site at Her Farm. It is equipped with two beds, a "pharmacy" of sorts, and a table where the patient and doctor sit to discuss what has brought him/her to the clinic. The vitals station was outside under the clinic's awning, run by the nurses.
Initially, it was unclear how us W&M students should integrate into the clinic's operations, as we did not want to be in the way or hinder any care, but soon we found our roles. Throughout the duration of the clinic, there was one student interviewing incoming patients before they were seen, one student observing at the vitals station, and typically two indoors overseeing the appointments themselves. We rotated positions so everyone got to experience the clinic from a different perspective, as there was certainly a lot to learn no matter what you were doing. Caitlin was our photographer for the day, and did an amazing job documenting everything. A very busy first day, but an excellent start to our research!
We had close to 100 patients that first day, ranging from the schoolchildren who came up during their lunch break to the elderly who had, in some cases, never seen a doctor before. The clinic ran for several hours - up until dinner - and we were all pleased with the turnout and how smoothly everything had gone. It was fascinating to hear about Nepali views on health and illness, and the importance of medicine and/or prayer in the healing process. Cultural relativity was key in interacting with the patients, and we showed that primarily just by being silent - listening was the most important part of our research by far. I went to sleep that night having learned things that extended well beyond medicine and disease, and happy that there was another day of our clinic ahead. - Lillian

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