3rd Anniversary of the January 12, 2010 quake…3 days to go.

Four questions about the Haitian Patient

The upcoming 3rd anniversary of the quake is an opportunity for me to reflect on the Haitian patient. I’m going to answer a few key questions that can shed some light on him/her.

1.     Who is she?
She’s a mother with multiple children and a father often absent and unemployed. She’d go without care to get care for her children. When she’s pregnant, she’d seek prenatal care, but will deliver most likely at home. Too many times, she won’t have Pap test and mammogram, and will find out later that she has stages 3 or 4 cancers and a few months to live.

She’s an infant or a child with respiratory symptoms, fever, skin diseases, etc. She’d get vaccine shots here and there. If she grows up in the countryside, she has a good chance to be malnourished. She’d die in most cases if she got meningitis or febrile seizures from unknown origin.

He’s a man who has not been often to the doctor, who ignores that he’s diabetic or hypertensive, and who has not had his prostate checked.

2.     How does she seek health care?
First, she’d use homemade remedies. In some cases, she’d go to a houngan, voodoo priest, if she thinks her disease has supernatural causes. Nowadays, she’d buy some Alpalide or Paracetamol from street vendors, before thinking about going to the doctor.

3.     How does she define success or satisfaction with her care?
Success or satisfaction with care is when the symptoms resolve and she’s feeling better. Many times prescriptions are not filled on time, which delays healing or cure. Therefore, providing medications at no or low cost is one of the keys to successful outcome.

4.     What does she expect from care professionals?
Respect, good listening ear, and patience. She describes her symptoms often through long narratives. She uses metaphors when talking about genital organs, menses, discharges, etc. She doesn’t like being rushed, ignored, or talked down. As long as you’re respectful, she’d agree to almost everything you propose for her care.

At the Repheka Clinics, we’re striving at providing dignified quality care at the lowest cost possible. Patients pay 50 gourde ($1.22 USD) to see a doctor, 10 gourdes ($0.24 USD per medication) and reduced costs for lab exams. We assure dignified care by insisting that all patients be treated fairly and equally, and quality care by carefully recruiting our clinical staff. To know more about our work in Haiti, please visit www.repheka.org.