Thursday, August 18, 2011

First 2 Clinics

On July 9th we went to our first mobile clinic outside of Hue.  The site was quite small for the number of people that had come to get free check-ups; there were about three exam rooms and one pharmacy.  Most of the patients were poor elderly folks and some had traveled very far to come to the mobile clinic that day.  

When we first arrived, each of the non-native speakers in the group were paired up with a native speaker.  At first, Thuong and I tried to help at the registration desk, but the clinic was already crowded with people so it was difficult to be of much help.  Later on Diep and I got the opportunity to take the blood pressure of patients coming in to see the doctors.  We hadn't had much prior experience taking blood pressure, but we quickly learned with practice.  Some of the older patients had incredibly high blood pressure.  They explained to us that they ate a lot of salty foods and smoked cigarettes, which likely caused their high blood pressure.  Once the patients completed their check-ups, the doctors usually wrote them prescriptions for medications they would then pick up at the pharmacy.  I later joined Andrea in collecting the massive wave of prescriptions that were coming into pharmacy, then handed the stack to Donna, who was calling out names.  While I was standing in front of the pharmacy, an older woman came up to me and began speaking to me in English.  I was so surprised, her English was quite good!  It was a hectic day, but we were glad to help as much as we could.  After wrapping up the clinic, we went as a group to eat Banh Uot, which ended up being one of my favorite dishes.  We were also so thirsty after working that we drank bottles and bottles of soy milk!

On July 10th we had our second set of clinics.  Two separate mobile clinics, one run by ACWP and the other by Friends of Hue, were organized at the same time so we had to split up into two groups.  Diep, Donna, Krish and I went to the ACWP clinic while Bao, Andrea, Michelle, and Thuong went to the Friends of Hue clinic.  The site for the ACWP clinic was much bigger than the day before, allowing for a more organized system of check-ups and medication pick-ups.  The group of people that came to visit that day were primarily minorities and most were young women with their children.  While I handed out toothbrushes and collected prescriptions outside of the pharmacy where Donna was working, Diep worked at the registration desk and Krish took pictures of the days events.   The kids loved the toothbrushes and some of the older kids were showing their younger siblings how to use them.  Many of the kids also received vitamin supplements along with their toothbrushes.  It was another successful mobile clinic, a rare yet helpful resource for the local community of the region.

-- submitted by Michelle Keyser, UC Berkeley

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