Today was brilliant. I started as part of the triage detail, working with Ashley and Manuel, our interpreter. As triage, we represented the first line of care, charged to assess and discern which patients needed immediate care. In doing so we were responsible to obtain the patient’s reason for the hospital visit, while acquiring their vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, etc.) and medical history (i.e. “Why have you come to the hospital today?”). This enables those “at risk” patients to be “triaged” to the top of the physician’s patient list.
The moment everybody in the waiting room had been triaged, I snuck in to observe Grace and Joyce treat patients – a blast as always, for humor never strays far from our two team physicians. They have ensured that I was continually involved in thinking through the medical differential (possible diagnoses) until a final diagnosis was reached and a treatment plan was established. I loved being able to participate in assessing the patient. I also burned through a lot of ink as I scribbled down their answers to all of my questions. So shout out to them both – for they enabled a definite highlight of my week.
Beyond the exciting work and activities, today was a powerful day for me. Aside from some of the basics, I cannot yet do much as a pre-medical person to actually treat patients. However, I was able to reach out and love up on hurting people. This week has confirmed just how much a simple touch, a quick smile, and a listening ear can communicate love – especially to people who struggle with isolating, smelly infections and really uncomfortable/painful conditions. My favorite patients were the kiddos. Regardless of the fact that I am a complete stranger, it only seems to take about 5 seconds for the kids to gaze up at me with trust, eagerly taking my hand or raising their arms for me to swoop them into the air. Today, Jerry, a five year old came into the clinic room with his father, accompanied by his younger brother and sister who also needed treatment. As he waited for his younger brother to be treated, he came over to sit on my lap. He weighted only 25 pounds. Because we needed to make double check his low weight measurement, I led him away from his father back into the waiting room to the scale. When I offered him my hand on the way, he reached up and put his tiny hand into mine. His one little action of trust and acceptance flooded my heart, and I was reminded of the preciousness of life – a gift given by our God who also holds us in His hand.
Aside from the kids, my favorite smile (and patient) rests on a middle-aged woman who was emitted to the hospital yesterday, having suffered from what appeared to be a series of strokes. Having been half-carried into the waiting room by family members, this woman flashed a pleasantly bold, half-sided grin at me as I assessed her in triage. Her eyes were full of unassuming hope. I was shocked to watch her leave the clinic about 30 minutes later, only to find out that she could not afford the hospital stay or treatment. But God is good and He provided! As she was exiting the hospital compound gate, we were able to run after her in time to get her to return to be admitted. Today, I was able to check up on her with the docs to find she had improved! Time will tell how much she will be able to recover, but that smile and that hope still burns as bright as ever. Several of the team members were able to surround her with prayer this afternoon. We serve a God who is the Healer and her Creator, and I am so thankful that He has been merciful to her. As our team has been fond of saying with skyward gestures - "He get's it, He get's it!" God gets all the praise.