Dr. Briana Cranmer’s Chisang Clinic Experience (Vol. II)
The clinic is filled with the giggles of the twenty women sitting in the waiting room as they joke and laugh. It is the unofficial opening day for the Chisang Clinic in Bhawanee village of eastern Nepal. In the promotion of maternal and child health our local friend Anita has ridden her bicycle 15 miles in each direction to spread word of the clinic and recruit pregnant women for their prenatal care. Today these women have arrived in masses bringing their joy and excitement of motherhood.
As the day wears on and I settle into the groove of the clinic I meet Laxmi, a first time mother at 36 weeks of pregnancy. Thankfully she has been receiving regular prenatal care at the government clinic, but sadly this costs her much time and money. As I examine her records, measure her belly, and use the ultrasound to see the baby, I realize how important the Chisang Clinic is to the health of the community. Not only is the clinic essential for the acute care of wounds and pneumonia, but in providing routine and preventative care the clinic is crucial in promoting the health of the entire community.
Today I am only able to offer a simple evaluation of this wonderfully pregnant woman, but hopefully soon the Chisang Clinic will offer much more as it continues to fundraise and collect donations. They plan to have a lab in order to conduct the necessary tests, to build a pharmacy to provide the appropriate antibiotics and vitamins, to obtain more medical supplies, and to build an obstetrics unit to allow for safe deliveries. As she slides off the table to go, I remind her to drink water, take her vitamins, and to return if she has any concerns. With Namaste and a smile she passes through the curtain.
My time volunteering as a physician at the Chisang Clinic has come to an end and the clinic Director Debendra Karki and I are headed to Biratnagar. He has emphasized the importance of visiting the government hospital in order to better appreciate what a referral means for our patients. He also hopes to show how incredibly valuable the Chisang Clinic is to the Bhawanee community. At the hospital I am disturbed by the mass of people forced to wait in the heat of the sun, the women sprawled on the floor, the children hooked up to IV’s scattered along the windowsill, and the trash bins overflowing with needles. One man vomits into his hands on my left while a family weeps over their ailing child on my right. The extent of pain and suffering is almost suffocating, not to mention the smell of sickness. A woman grabs Debendra’s arm and pulls us to a bed. She is from our village, her son has had diarrhea and vomiting for the past week and they have been in Biratnagar for the last two days receiving treatment for severe dehydration.
“Why didn’t you come to the clinic?” I ask. My heart breaks to hear it is because they didn’t believe we had the appropriate medical supplies and assumed they would be referred to the hospital anyway. Although I am sad to see them in the Biratnagar hospital, I am hopeful that as the Chisang Clinic continues to grow it will acquire the necessary resources to manage this child while saving the family money, emotional stress, and time.
We say our farewells and continue to the maternity ward. Looking down the dank and narrow hallway I see a woman standing in the light of a doorway. I recognize the black and red pattern of her traditional skirt. As I look to her face, my pace quickens, I know this woman. And she knows me.
She ushers me into the room. My patient Laxmi sits on the fifth bed to the left holding her beautiful new baby girl. She had delivered just two hours prior, no complications with the delivery, and they are set to go home within the hour. Mom is glowing and I am giddy with excitement as she places baby into my arms. I am reminded yet again that this is a patient who could easily be managed by the Chisang Clinic and in just a year’s time and a lot of fundraising they will have that capability. Although I was not granted the privilege of delivering this child, I know soon enough the clinic will have that honor.
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