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Saturday, April 9, 2011

April Rotation

I'm a 3rd year pediatric resident from The University of Tennessee in Memphis. A couple of my colleagues have already done this rotation and have really enjoyed the experience and I'm glad to have been given this opportunity as well.

Arriving before the start of the work week, I had a couple of days to relax and enjoy Jamaica… 48 hours of rest here felt like a week off. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so rested in all of residency. I was able to SCUBA dive to a coral reef and I saw a variety of aquatic creatures such as a sting ray, sea turtle and lion fish.

The food is delicious and I've eaten several things I've never heard of before such as naseberry and star apple. The temptation to try all the different types of fresh seafood, fruits and other delicacies offered here resulted in several return trips to the buffet line. Fortunately there is a gym here.

Monday I worked at Port Maria Hospital A&E (accident and emergency) dept. Away from the main patient area inside, a small exam room was prepared for me outside with a door that opened to a walkway. In front of this door, families lined up on a bench partially shaded by a breezeway, awaiting their turn. Without a formal orientation, I was escorted to the room by a nurse and kinda winged it. This week has required some acclimation to their healthcare system, learning what resources & medications are available, as well as how to access those resources.

In just 2 days at A&E, I treated a wide variety of classic pediatric cases such as herpetic gingivostomatitis, radial head subluxation, vitiligo, bacterial cervical neck lymphadenitis, hand, foot & mouth disease, etc.

One young child returned to A&E with a plain film x-ray of his hand. Four days earlier he smashed his finger at school and when he was seen that day at A&E his finger was wrapped up and he was referred for x-rays. His finger looked horrible from the crush injury. The lacerated, necrotic distal end of the finger could be easily separated from the underlying bone. This time he was referred to an orthopedic specialist which will require a trip to another hospital. I’m afraid he may have complications. I wonder if in the sea of patients to be seen, some things don’t get the necessary attention that they really need.

The patient flow was interrupted momentarily when a nurse asked if I would give my “expert opinion” for the staff medical officer on a child admitted in the hospital. Knowing the bench of families was ever-growing, I quickly saw the patient, reviewed the case and wrote a pediatric consult note for the doctor in the chart. The reason for the consult? The doctor was concerned about dextrocardia in a toddler who was admitted for pneumonia and otitis media. But the chest x-ray was shot at a slightly rotated angle giving the illusion of possible dextrocardia. A quick listen to the chest and heart sounds were fortunately on the appropriate side.

After this, the patient flow was again interrupted during a period when I was waiting to discuss an x-ray I had ordered with one family, have a nurse help me cleaned and bandage a wound, and get the weight of an infant so I could prescribe the appropriate dose of antibiotics (mom lost the slip of paper she was given at triage with the weight and vitals). My previously seen patients and the nurses seemed to have vanished. The remainder the bench was becoming restless. I couldn’t figure out where everyone had gone until I found a doctor who informed me that a motor vehicle accident had just occurred in front of the hospital and the curious went out front to look at it. Eventually they all came back.

My last patient at Port Maria was a 4 year old boy that was brought in with lab results to rule out rheumatic fever. I don’t believe he has RF but a CBC did show that he had a normocytic anemia with a hemoglobin of 8 (low). He also had a loud heart murmur that I don’t think can be explained by a simple flow murmur from anemia. His older sister has sickle cell disease and polycystic kidney disease. There are no newborn screens here, so it is very likely the boy has sickle cell anemia also given his lab findings. To test for this, a hemoglobin electrophoresis test must be performed at a private lab. This is a relatively simple blood test but mom will have to pay for this test since it isn’t covered under the national health insurance. I also referred him for an echocardiogram but this has to be done at another hospital which is quite a distance away. Transportation will be an issue as gas is expensive here (almost twice as much to fill up a tank than in the U.S.). She also showed me a referral form from last year for a CT scan of her daughter’s abdomen to image the kidneys. This will cost her roughly $475. It is unlikely that she will have any of the money to pay for these studies since the family has relatively little income. Mom has not given up hope, however. “They will get done somehow,” she said. I hope so too.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for blogging your journey, and volunteering to help the children in Jamaica!