I was a bit late starting my first day at the poste de santé. I had to wait a little bit for my breakfast which took longer than expected. My host dad gave me a whole loaf of french bread to eat, which he had just bought at the boutique, and told me I should it it all. I walked away a bit flabbergasted. My host mom came into my room to give me hot water for my cafe and so I tried to eat as fast as possible and headed out the door.
Main poste de santé building
Mornings and evenings are the busiest time of day at the PDS because the heat is so terrible during the day. I noticed most of our clients were elderly women, pregnant women, women with babies and a few children and teenagers. Where were all the men? It made sense that the men don’t really come because they’re always the ones that are working in the fields to provide for the family. I basically sat in the pharmacy room with Boucar and watched patients come in and out. Boucar is the pharmacist, the accountant, and the secretary. I just sat for 4 hours by his desk, watched tickets get distributed for consultations and people coming in to buy meds. I felt pretty useless sitting there and asked if there was anything I could do. But in reality, things died down after 10am and I felt like I’d mess up their system of doing things if I intervened considering I can’t speak Serer and don’t really have a medical background or experience. Being here makes me wish I was pre-med and could help in some way. I finally told Boucar I could ge up and grab the meds for each patient for him, since he was always shuffling in and out of his chair to do that.
Boucar at work multi-tasking, doing accounting and being the pharmacist
Sitting in the pharmacy office, it breaks my heart sometimes. There were a couple of patients who came in and had to be turned away or couldn’t receive their meds because they didn’t have 3 or 4 dollars. Most can pay but some come in and can’t. There’s a general consultation fee for adults (50 cents) and children (25 cents), very cheap in our standards but if a patient had a wound and had to come back several days in a row, this adds up and can be quite expensive.
Waiting room where 10-20 patients may be sitting everyday
I didn’t meet Philomene, the doctor and my supervisor, until later that evening when she called me to come back to the PDS. She’d been away at the funeral when Waly and Miriam dropped me off. When I did meet her that evening, it was only for a brief moment because 2 patients were waiting for her. When it gets dark in the village, it gets dark. All I could think about while waiting to talk with Philo was wanting to get home before it got too dark for me to take my bucket shower. I waited for Philo, expecting her to brief me or something but she never did. Instead, I ended up watching her put stitches in a 5 year old boy who had gotten kicked in the chin by a donkey. With limited materials at the PDS, all the boy received was a swab to clean the area and then she started putting the stitches in. He didn’t even shed a tear! It was 6:45pm and the PDS had no electricity so the boy’s dad held the flashlight while Philo worked. Afterwards, Philo just said a few words to me and then I plunged back into the darkness and headed home.