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Malawi - Day 3

6/12/24

Malawi: June 6-18, 2024

Our first clinic day

Today was our first clinic day where everyone was present and we had a large supply of medications and medical supplies. We had a wonderful buffet breakfast and were on the pink bus by a little after 7:30 AM. We stopped at a clinic an hour from our hotel to connect with government healthcare workers. Another hour later, we arrived in a rural village to set up our clinic. The children greeted us VERY enthusiastically with the rhythmic chant of “Azungu”! (white people!) The throng of people waiting in line for medical attention was more than a little overwhelming.

It took a bit of time to set up the pharmacy and arrange a space for the clinicians to see patients. We had our two American doctors, Amy and Bill, as well as Malawian doctors and nurse practitioners. We also had two pharmacy technicians. They were invaluable when it came to explaining to the patient how to properly take their medication(s).

My husband Alan worked the admissions table with the “other” Nancy. They checked in roughly half of the patients that were seen today. All told, we saw over 425 people in roughly four hours. At one point, the clinicians split up and the specialists started seeing the next patient in line rather than patients that specifically needed a specialist.

The pharmacy was, at best, organized chaos. Our pharmacist-in-charge, Susan, was constantly pulled in a myriad of directions. Eventually, patient intake was suspended. When the doctors were no longer seeing patients, they joined us in the pharmacy and helped fill prescriptions. We finished filling prescriptions over an hour later than we intended to leave. A place that was literally a sea of humanity when we arrived was now quiet and essentially empty.

Amy’s son Colin was a huge help in a multitude of ways. I think the children were somewhat fascinated by a younger “Mzungu.” Several times, Colin escorted a more critically ill patient who needed to go to the head of the line into the pharmacy space. He was so caring and gentle. He also was the “Bubble man” who was a tremendous hit with the children.

Speaking of being a hit with the children… I was working in the pharmacy when someone told me that Alan was having the time of his life with the kids. He absolutely adores kids, so I was not surprised. I briefly left my post to watch him teaching the kids “high five” and “down low” and bumping elbows! They were all, and I mean ALL, having a wonderful time!

The patients today ranged in age from infants to 86 years old. They live a hard existence, and they must be hardy individuals to live into their 80s. Nearly all of the women of child-bearing age carried a baby on their back. Occasionally, some of the sicker children slept on the floor of the pharmacy while awaiting their turn to be seen. Several times, elderly patients passed out from dehydration.

Although we brought enough supplies to hopefully cover 5 days of clinics, we dispensed a very large percentage of our stash today. It is likely that we would have been out of some vital medications before Thursday if we had done the first two planned clinics. God works in mysterious ways…

We worked through lunch. A few of us managed to grab a protein bar, but we were all very hungry when we got back to the hotel. The buffet was ready when we arrived at 7 PM. Colin did an extremely impressive job of getting copious amounts of food onto his plate! (We all ate well!) Most folks are preparing medications in advance of tomorrow’s clinic while I’m writing the blog.

We are leaving even earlier tomorrow morning, and apparently going even farther afield. We all look forward to another day of service in His name.