A Patient’s Story from Rural Haiti

By Betta Hobbins, John Morgan Klyver, and Lexy Dantzler Medical Missionaries Global Health Fellows 2017-2018

Just outside of Savane Platte, there’s a small house on a hill. It’s a pretty iconic house, framed against picturesque mountains and ever-present bright blue sky. It was just gorgeous that first time that we came out to Savane Platte’s Mobile Clinic. We didn’t have too much time to do more than simply notice it, however. We spent our time working with the pharmacy, shadowing the doctors, and generally helping out in whatever capacity we could.

At the end of the day, one of the members of Savane Platte’s health committee invited us to visit his garden and one of his elderly neighbors.  We gladly took him up on the offer and went off with him, walking among the beans, corn, and other vegetables growing behind his house. Afterwards, he began leading us towards the picturesque house on the hill.

He told us that one of its inhabitants was quite elderly, having outlived all of her children, and she was now living with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Upon reaching the house, we were greeted by a middle-aged woman who welcomed us inside. Several children scampered out of our way, and sitting in the corner was Ayila.*

Ayila was frail and sweet, with beautiful light-gray eyes. She slowly smiled up at us, and we sat and spoke with her family for a while.  They were very glad to see us and visit with us, but we couldn’t stay long. We promised to come back soon.

When the next Savane Platte mobile clinic came around, we packed up some powdered milk for Ayila, and we set out with Dr. Lawrence and some of the other doctors. As the clinic wrapped up, we met up with Dr. Lawrence, asked him to come out with us, and we walked to the house on the hill. When we arrived, Ayila was as happy to see us.  Dr. Lawrence sat down on a bench with her to do a physical examination.

Dr. Lawrence was incredibly kind and gentle with Ayila as he checked her blood pressure and vital signs.  Despite the short duration of the visit, he managed to make it feel special and intimate, sitting on a small bench with Ayila for the entire time. As we got up to leave, he promised to come back and to send medication and nutrients out in the future.

We still go out to visit that small house on the hill in Savane Platte, and we still bring powdered milk and whatever else Dr. Lawrence recommends.  We always think back to Dr. Lawrence’s trip to Savane Platte, about how caring and selfless he was.  This type of care is what we’re proud to support in the local community, and it’s the standard of what St. Joseph Clinic provides. Sometimes the best and most appropriate care takes place on a bench in a countryside house, not on an ER bed or on an operating table.

*Some patient and location names have been changed.

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