Week 3-community health
July 18th, 2019 by Rachel Loder
Posted in Uncategorized|
I’m a little too adjusted to island time with these very belated weekly blog posts. Sorry! My friend and former coworker Stacey has been here this week, so it has been fun to enjoy even more of the island after clinic. Everything continues to go very well here, and I’m sad thinking about ever having to leave this island! If anybody would be willing to ship me Marty, I might stay forever. Anyway, I recently began scuba certification! I didn’t intend to get certified with so much stand up paddle boarding and snorkeling available, but I gave in and I’m very happy with my decision! Taking my first breaths underwater felt surreal, and the dive sites around Roatan are unbelievable. There are many turtles, eagle rays, millions of colorful fish, intricate coral, etc. How lucky we are to share this planet with such extraordinary species!
My huge highlight from week 3 was doing house visits in a local community. While I have thoroughly enjoyed living a pretty touristy life outside of clinic hours with a group of volunteers, I have been missing the local community aspect during this (incredibly fun) rotation. I recognize that the lifestyle I’ve had here isn’t what most locals truly live most days, so getting out into the community was really meaningful. Clínica Esperanza’s community health nurse is Carla, and she is a true rockstar. Before we even got out of the taxi she was waving and calling out to people she knew from the window. It’s clear that she has a great rapport and “confianza” (trust) with this community, which results in much more successful work! That doesn’t happen overnight, much like I experienced in Peace Corps. But how rewarding once it’s established! Ironically, we met up with a health promoter named Consuelo to do house visits. I also worked with a health promoter named Consuelo in Peru J I felt strangely “at home” tagging along to do such familiar work, though in a very unfamiliar setting. Between Consuelo and Carla, it felt like a party greeting everyone and talking about everything from local gossip to hypertension and everything in between. They are both incredibly talented at delivering clear, comprehensible messages about nutrition in young children and controlling hypertension in adults. Knowing how to small talk and cleverly guide the conversation towards health maintenance/prevention is a great skill both Carla and Consuelo have mastered. One woman insisted garlic was enough to control her high blood pressure (it was 170/100 when we measured) and instead of shutting down her beliefs, Carla explained that maybe it had helped in the past but her “hypertension was advancing and now requires a little extra help with one easy little pill a day to avoid dizziness, headaches and future complications like strokes.” I have a feeling that the way she delivered this message, the words she used, and the fact that we were in her home rather than a sterile clinic setting, made understanding and action on her part a lot more likely. That’s what I love about community health!
As we hiked up the steep hill we stopped where Consuelo knew there were children to measure height/weight or adults with hypertension. Carla always insisted on looking around one more corner or venturing up just one more set of precarious stairs to not miss a single child, joking and singing about finding all the children no matter where they were. The culture here is very warm and friendly, which made the house visits even more fun and enjoyable. No matter where they are in the world, I believe health promoters are a vital piece to the puzzle of public health and building relationships between communities and health centers. Cheers to Carla and Consuelo for the invaluable work they do to bridge local communities with access to healthcare!
Today’s agenda includes a “lunch and learn” presentation in which volunteers are assigned topics to present to the entire clinic staff. I was paired with another nursing student from UVA to present on vital signs, so we decided to make an interactive Jeopardy game to review parameters and discuss clinical scenarios!