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Construction of the new clinic has continued at a promising pace this week. After pouring the concrete floor last week, the masons started placing blocks for the walls of the clinic on Tuesday, and as of yesterday, they had finished the 6th row of blocks.

Laying Blocks in the Clinic

Back of the Clinic

Masons at Work

Clinic as of 8/23

We were also able to lay out the pharmacy building yesterday (adjacent to the clinic), and we hope to start digging the foundation early next week.

Pharmacy Site

Laying Out the Pharmacy Site

We are so excited about all the progress that has been made in the past two weeks, and we are hopeful that it will continue in the coming weeks.

I had a vision the other day.  It wasn’t a spiritual vision, but it did have spiritual implications.  I was standing on the newly completed floor of our new clinic, discussing with Engineer Nick Matthews where inner walls and doors were going to be placed.  As I did so, I envisioned in my mind what things would look like in each room when construction is completed.  I was standing in what is to be the Emergency Room, a place where we’ll receive patients who are brought to us on stretchers.  We won’t have cardiac monitors and oxygen tubing and resuscitation equipment like we have in US Emergency Rooms.  But, we’ll be able to evaluate patients, do some routine laboratory testing and give them medications to make them better.

Across from the ER is the procedure room, where I envision nurses doing dressing changes on patient wounds.  Perhaps we’ll have visiting surgeons perform some minor surgical procedures on patients who need cysts removed or hernias repaired.  Who knows?  Maybe we’ll even do some emergent deliveries in that room some day.  “We’ll have to keep an emergency OB kit handy,” I think to myself.

Down the hall is the Triage Room, where Cherlie will check vital signs, then the examination rooms, where I’ll be seeing patients.  “I hope we can still feel like family when we’re larger and more sophisticated,” I think.  The patients love having us greet them and talk with them in the morning at the start of our clinic sessions.  They laugh when Cherlie makes jokes about typical Haitian behavior because they know she’s telling the truth.  “”Don’t be using products to lighten your skin because it will make it tough and I can’t get an IV needle into it,” she says.  “You’re the color God wanted you to be and if you want to see what color that is, just look under your breasts.”  Those kinds of comments always bring laughter and nods of understanding.  We’ll have a larger waiting area outside and it will be covered with a concrete roof, so patients won’t get wet when it rains.  We’ll have more staff so we can see more patients and will have visiting physicians come help us once in a while.

My mind wanders as we measure hallways and door openings.  My office will be there and medical records down the hall.  “Maybe we’ll use the conference room to sleep in, so we don’t have to drive up and down the mountain every day,” I think.  “At least until we have a staff residence built up here to house us.”  Who knows what the future will bring?  For me, right there, today was enough.  I said a big prayer of thanks to the Lord for bringing us this far.  I can finally see the future and it’s not too far in the distance!

Here is a photo of the poured concrete floor of the clinic taken last week:

Clinic Floor

Continue to pray with us for good weather and a dump truck without breakdowns, so we can keep up the recent good progress!

Kervenson Jean Baptiste is a four year-old boy who came to see us in our clinic a few weeks ago.  He had a cold and high fever and was crying a lot as I tried to examine him.  So, I got a little toy car out of our toy box and gave it to him, in hopes of making him feel better.  “Do you like this car?” I asked him.  He didn’t speak, but shook his head “yes” as he looked at me through his tears.  “Well,” I said, “you can keep the car but you need to bring it with you each time you come to clinic so I can see it, okay?”  His eyes brightened a bit as he shook his head in agreement.  Off he went with his mother and his medications and I thought that would be the end of the little car.

This week Kervenson came back to clinic for a check-up and I fortunately had made a little note in his chart about the toy car.  He stood next to his mother in my examination room, wearing a clean white T-shirt and pressed beige dress pants.  “My, don’t you look sharp!” I said to him, as he stood waiting expectantly.  “Where’s the car?” I asked.  He smiled a big smile and reached into his pant pocket where he was hiding his precious possession.  He proudly held it up for me to admire.  I rolled it around on my desk and confirmed that it was in working order.  Then, I handed it back to him.  “It looks great,” I said.  “Take good care of it and bring it in to clinic next time you come in.”  Then, I took his photo and asked him and his mother to say a prayer of thanks to the children of Kingston Presbyterian Church in New Jersey who collected toys like his to send down to us – precious gifts from special children.

Kervenson with his toy car


Darline Simelien was brought to clinic on the same day as Kervenson by her mother and father.  Her parents no longer lived together and Darline lived with her mother, her mother’s boyfriend and a younger sibling.  The parents said that Darline wasn’t eating well, had a cough, fever, shortness of breath and became swollen all over her body a few days ago.  They had walked all day to get to the clinic, carrying the child on a little “branka” or stretcher, and arrived at 5pm, just as we were closing.

Darline’s homemade “branka” or stretcher

As I examined her, I wondered how in the world a child could be allowed to get in such bad shape without anyone bringing her to see a doctor?  It was obvious to me that she had been sick a lot longer than a few days.  But, this wasn’t the time or place to debate the issue.  She was extremely anemic, had pneumonia and was severely malnourished.  “Your daughter needs to go to the hospital in Jérémie right away,” I said.  “She’s very sick and will die if she isn’t taken to the hospital today.  We can take her in our jeep, but someone needs to stay with her in the hospital.”  As the parents discussed this information, it was quite evident that the poor child’s mother wasn’t the best caregiver in the world.  “My boyfriend can go down with her,” she said.  “I have another sick child at home to take care of and I’ll go down to the hospital tomorrow.”  The father also had two sick kids at home, so the young boyfriend was elected to go with the child to the government hospital in town.  He held her tightly on the bumpy road down the mountain in our jeep and we took them to the hospital, where I introduced them to the nurse on the pediatric ward.  Fortunately, the hospital has a very good malnutrition ward for patients like Darline, funded by Doctors of the World and we knew she would be cared for without expense to the family.  We’ll check on her in the hospital periodically and will follow up with her once she’s discharged.  She’s a little child with very big needs.


Darline with malnutrition and pneumonia