Tracey Martin our Sugar Scholar from our November 2014 wrote about her visit to Jamaica (learn more about Sugar Scholars).
Dear Medicine In Action,
This year I was giving the opportunity to witness significant change. This was made possible by the sugar scholarship. It allowed me to not only learn but to implement sustainable and successful interventions in resource poor communities. On pre-op day one, I was excited to walk into a hospital filled with women, who had traveled for hours waiting patiently to be seen. What I admired most about that day was the bond between the women. Once complete strangers, they bonded through humor, laughter and support while sharing stories about their illnesses and how it had affected their lives. By the end of our first day we were scheduled to perform twenty-six procedures. I remember questioning if we were making an impact when the waitlist for gynecological surgeries extended beyond 2018. How would we affect change? The answer to this question become clear over the course of the mission.
I distinctively remembered one of my patients, a 28-year-old female who suffered from uterine fibroids and had been unable to conceive. We told her she would need a myomectomy but would have to purchase an interceed to prevent adhesions. The cost of the interceed was a financial burden for her, but her family willingly sacrificed the little they had to provide her the opportunity to conceive. She was able to purchase the interceed and the operation was successfully performed. Her grandmother greeted us in the waiting room with open arms and tears of joy. This is the impact MIA makes on the lives of patients and their families. MIA forms relationships with patients that went beyond the doors of the OR and lasted for a lifetime. This was apparent during my encounter with a couple and their young daughter who had been a patient of Dr. O during a previous mission. The mother was unable to conceive prior to having Dr. O perform her myomectomy. Years later, she came to thank MIA for changing her life in such a positive way. This is the change I aim to be a part of – improving the lives of those most in need by affording high quality healthcare.
Next, we traveled to the country and served communities where poverty, lack of transportation and social circumstances often served as barriers to patients seeking medical care in nearby cities. Our first day in the village we saw over eighty patients for both general medical problems and women’s health issues. Our presence in the village spread like wild fire and over the course of three days we treated over 260 people. I remember the first day we walked into the Holy Spirit clinic in Maggotty. The community members sang, prayed, and thanked us. They were grateful for the care they received. I, too, was thankful for the opportunity to participate in their care. I do not think they were fully aware of what I myself had gained from my encounters with each patient. My time in the clinics provided me a reality that contrasted what I was used to in the United States. I was working in communities where my physical exam skills were everything and education was just as or even more effective than drugs. Examining PMI became as useful as an echocardiogram in a patient with suspected cardiomegaly. I also witnessed infectious diseases such as chikungunya that I had not encountered in medical school.
My experience in Jamaica as part of MIA energized me. I will forever cherish the lasting friendships I’ve made with the MIA team. As a fourth year medical student, MIA brought me back to where my passion for medicine began. This mission reminded me of the people I desired to serve. The people of Jamaica inspired me. Their warmth, gratitude and easy-going nature will forever resonate with me as a critical part of my medical career, and to them I am forever grateful.
– Tracey Martin