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by Jana Siu
I got to know Señora Maria over her prescribed 5 day course of antibiotics. Everyday she’d shuffle in around 2pm, hand over her prescription and give one large sigh before I gave her an injection into her hip. Afterwards, we’d have a little chat about the importance of getting the whole course of antibiotics. I always fear that patients won’t come back because of the pain. On the contrary, I’ve found the patients here to be very diligent on coming in day after day, whether for an injection or excruciating wound care. When I asked her about this, she told me that in spite of the pain, she was very grateful for the attentive care she was receiving from Dr. Erika and the staff. Prior to the Policlinico, her healthcare consisted of rare visits to “la posta”, the government funded clinics for the underserved and the poor. Her disheartening response to what was problematic about it said it all, “They treat me badly.”
On her last day of antibiotics, Señora Maria was disappointed to hear that my stay here was coming to an end. And in good Peruvian fashion, she asked whether or not I had tried the 20 or so Peruvian dishes that she rattled off. I thought I had done well, but she was still shocked at the few I had not tried. She rubbed her injection site and clucked her disapproval as she shuffled out the door.
by Jana Siu
Vicki the pharmacist described to me the neighborhood of Cleto Rojas in San Clemente as rustic. I found “rustic” to be an understatement. This area increased dramatically in size after the earthquake. Houses are constructed of wooden poles and mats of weaved reed stalks as roofs and walls. Plastic sheeting, some that have the emblem of medical relief organizations long gone, insulate these homes. It’s a very dusty, windy, dry part of town. We chose Cleto Rojas as the location to do our preventative health campaign.
Tumbling out of our cramped motos with our supplies and anticipation, we were slightly disappointed to see all of 5 people sitting outside. But knowing that information spreads pretty quickly through paper-thin walls (literally), we soon found ourselves in a crowd of 60.
The guest contributor to our Blog today is Jana Siu, a Registered Nurse from California who has volunteered for us before in India. Jana is spending time volunteering at our clinic the “Policlínico Peruano-Americano” in San Clemente, Peru and just sent this first dispatch from the field.
by Jana Siu
Scrubs, check. Stethoscope, check. Anti-malaria medication, check. Headlamp, check. I packed my bag for India with the same ingredients as I had for my last international nursing trip. I didn’t have a crystal clear idea of what my volunteer role would be, but I was pretty sure I would be doing some direct-patient bedside care. 37 hours of traveling later, I found myself working as part public health nurse, part nurse consultant, and part tribal field nurse. As for what I had packed, malaria season was over, locals stared oddly at my shapeless clothing and my headlamp was used mainly to help discern the contents of my dinner plate in my mostly electricity-less living quarters. My stethoscope was pretty useful, but what I really could’ve packed was some chill-pills and some go-with-the-flow elixir.