Monday, July 15, 2013

Bình Điền Mobile Clinic

On the morning on June 2nd, we awoke early at 7:45am to grab breakfast in the hotel lobby before driving off at 8:15am to our second ACWP Mobile Clinic. Accompanying us again were the ever so wonderful Cô Trân, her recent college-graduated nephew, and Duy from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

To the Highlands we go! The ride to Bình Điền was an exhilarating, yet bumpy ride about 20 minutes away from the main roads of Huế. Andrew and I jokingly remarked that our driver was taking revenge on us for leading him to the wrong restaurant for dinner the night before =P.

We arrived at a slightly smaller town health center compared to the first mobile clinic. Sitting in chairs and on the steps awaiting us were crowds of elders, adults, and, alas, children! There were three exam rooms (two for adults and one for children) and a pharmacy. After unloading a few a boxes of medication into the pharmacy room, we took to our places. A few assisted in the pharmacy room to hand out medicine, some in the exam rooms to take blood pressure, and others did crowd control/ help direct patients to the correct rooms.

The locals of this town were tremendously lively and friendly. Sogole and I befriended some locals including a very wise-looking elderly man who resembled Mr. Miyagi, an elderly woman who wanted to show us her rolled-up leaves of medicinal joints, and a group of camera-shy children! After getting her check-up, the elderly woman returned to where we were standing to bid us farewell and hug Sogole! I also spoke to one man who told me that he walked 40 minutes to get to the clinic to see a doctor because his family could not afford a motorbike.

With some free time, I also had an opportunity to chat up with Duy and Cô Trân’s nephew about life in Huế, the education system in Vietnam, and the complicated logistics behind planning a mobile clinic. Interesting fact I learned: graduating high school seniors must score really high on their college entrance exams in order to enter medical/dental school which are both six year programs!

After a busy morning filled with periodic influxes of patients, our mobile clinic wrapped up around noon. I don’t have the exact figures of how many patients were seen, but what stood out to me most were the the faces of the locals I interacted with and the few stories that they shared with me. Great work to VMO and the doctors, nurses, and pharmacists present!

-- submitted by Phuc Tran, UC Berkeley

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