A Memorable Day in Grande Riviere by Caitlin Cawley

A Memorable Day in Grande Riviere by Caitlin Cawley
20160226_145514 (2)
Nurse Charles, conducting “See and Treat” in Gran Riviere

Today’s taptap journey brought CCC intern Ellen and I to Hopital Grande Riviere du Nord, less than an hour south of Cap-Haitian. We had been told that the clinic was working to mobilize patients, but we were not prepared for the dozens of women, all anxious to be screened, waiting for us upon our arrival. After a brief meeting with the nurse in charge of the cervical cancer prevention program and
the hospital administrator, we were ready to begin screening. We were quite satisfied with the clinic set-up, which had two stations on either side of a room with a fan to help keep patients comfortable in the heat and humidity. We found Nurse Charles to be a great nurse leader to her staff and the handful of student nurses who were observing us today. Many patients were nervous, and she had a gentle way about her that instantly put patients at ease during their screening.

One of our patients today was particularly memorable. She entered the clinic with a huge, bright smile, a polka dot bow in her hair, and a big personality that somehow didn’t match her petite frame. She smiled all throughout screening as she told us about her seven children. Yes, SEVEN. We completed her screening, and as she gathered her belongings, she said in beautiful English, “Thank you very much!” It caught us a bit off guard, and we laughed and hugged before she exited the clinic. I watched her leave and thought about how amazing it is to make such a connection with someone after having only seen their face for the first time five minutes ago. I thought about her family, and how many lives would be affected if something were to happen to her. And I felt relief, knowing that she now had a greatly reduced chance of dying from cervical cancer, all from a five minute screening.

After all 83 patients had been screened and treated, it was time to say goodbye to our new friends, and the beautiful little town of Grande Riviere. We will rest easy knowing that the clinic staff share our passion and determination, and will continue to work to fight the cervical cancer epidemic.