By Annie Lukins, one of two Bainbridge High School students on the 2009 Health Delegation
We unstick our hot and sweaty legs from the back seat of our rented van, and walk through a little gate to the entrance of La Flor’s community clinic. A petite woman ushers us inside. Bright posters illuminate the walls with diagrams of pregnant women and the proper way to brush one’s teeth.
The small woman turns out to be one of the two nurses on duty. She leads us through the clinic, explaining each detail. Although a light film of dust had crept through cracks in the walls and floor, it is clear that the three tidy rooms had been diligently scrubbed. The sink in the operation room is broken, so the nurses resort to gathering water at a spigot outside.
The nurse begins to explain various projects. In spite of limited resources, the clinic is working to diagnose and treat the problems of the community as well as the problems of its individuals. The nurse explains how the clinic works together with community leaders to design projects. The clinic facilitates a long list of “clubs,” most of which meet weekly to address community problems like teen pregnancy and child malnutrition. Teenagers in the “adolescent club” learn about things like contraceptives and drugs. “Nutrition club” members meet weekly to learn cost-effective yet healthy recipes to feed growing families.
When asked what kinds of improvements could be made, the nurse suggested that perhaps somebody could repair the broken sink, that a more reliable light should be installed, and that a radio could be purchased so that she wouldn’t have to use her private cell phone for clinic affairs anymore at her own expense. Basic requests, considering the small center serves 1,000 people.
During our 10-day trip we visited 12 clinics and hospitals. What we discovered was a work force of nurses and doctors with outstanding fortitude. Sometimes the broken equipment or lack of medicine disappointed us, but just as often we were inspired, because with a little support the resourceful, hardworking staff members are ready to tackle the difficult problems they face.
Members of the Health Delegation visit the clinic in La Flor.