Oct 29 – A Moment with Philo

Consultation room and also Philo’s office

Philo and I had a little chat about my internship and wanted to make sure I was doing well. (Just in case you forgot, she is my site supervisor and the head doctor/nurse at the poste de santé). It was sweet of her to mention that I should always ask questions if I had any about the clinic – she said sometimes everyone is so busy and so used to the habit of routine that they forget I don’t understand Serer or what’s going on. I was grateful she mentioned that because I had been feeling a little useless and more in the way than helpful sometimes. I was told I’d be spending a week at different parts of the small clinic, a week in the pharmacy room, the injection/cleaning wounds room, the consultation room and the maternity ward. This will allow me to have a holistic view of the clinic and its functions. Philo said I’d get to see a live birth as well as watch and then give adults needle shots. I think she she’s overestimating my medical abilities!

Room where patients receive injections, vaccinations, and get wounds cleaned

I asked Philo, ‘what is the hardest part about your job?’ Her response: not being able to rest at all. At every rural poste de santé, there is a building on the clinic compounds where the doctor or nurse lives. Philo rests when she can but she’s literally on duty 24/7. Even in the late night, the night guard will knock on her door when a patient has arrived unexpectedly and needs help. Fatou and Eliane, the two matrons, trade night shifts and sleep at the maternity ward.

Philo’s house in the back of the compound

The maternity ward – only 2 rooms are used for delivery process and 2 rooms are for the matrons (bedroom & very small “kitchen”)

I sat there and couldn’t help but think about how in the US, the doctors and nurses always have someone who can cover a shift. I’m learning as much as I want to criticize the health infrastructure in Senegal, I need to also take into consideration the fact that Senegal doesn’t have the same resources as America does. How can I look down on a system and say ‘if only they would do things like the way that we do in the US, then they could fix this problem!’ when it’s obvious that resources are very much limited and unavailable here.

I catch myself continually looking at differences between how things are done in Senegal compared to the US, and only seeing the differences through American lenses. I’m learning not to do that but it’s definitely not easy.

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