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-Newspaper article from The Metrowest Daily News
-Article from The Boston College Chronicle
-Newspaper article from The Weston Town Crier
-My Grant Proposal
-Katya's Health Education Project Report (5 Part)
-Picture slideshow from my Summer 2008 Uganda trip
-Video picture slideshow with traditional Ugandan music
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Monday, September 14, 2009
On August 9th, I traveled across the
In the weeks leading up to the trip, I spent many hours searching the internet for material to use for the disease prevention educational program. I found an endless amount of websites on germs, hand washing, and first aid. I compiled the most important information into a report and found activities that correlated to each subject. This included coloring sheets for the younger children and word searches and word scrambles for the older kids. I found songs addressing hand washing, which I used to write my own. Sung to the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat, the words to the song I wrote are:
During this time, I was also collecting basic first aid and medical supplies. With the help of family and friends, I put together 75 small first aid kits that consisted of adhesive bandages, gauze for cleaning wounds, alcohol wipes, and non-latex gloves. In addition to these, I also created five large first aid kits, one for each headmaster or headmistress at the five primary schools supported by the Kasiisi Project. These first aid kits included all of the same supplies as the small ones, but in much larger quantities. They also had gauze rolls and pads for covering wounds, medical tape, scissors, ace bandages, and antibacterial cream. People also donated hand sanitizer and bars of soap, which were to be donated to each school. Many of the donations I received were from the community, who became aware of my project after an article was printed in the local newspaper. All together, the supplies filled three large duffle bags and weighed close to 175 pounds.
After weeks of preparation, I had finally arrived in
Things change. Expectations change. I learned that in my first week there. I had gone to develop nursing skills. Instead, I developed a clear understanding of what a health care system looks like in a developing country. I saw what it means to have to walk to get medical treatment. I witnessed diagnoses being made strictly based on symptoms. I watched and I learned more than I could have ever learned by staying within the
I had gone to provide heath education to five primary schools, to over 5000 schoolchildren. Instead, I found that with the language barrier and with the supplies I had, I could only educate one school, one school where over 100 students are packed into each classroom. I taught 1199 children about germs and the importance of washing one’s hands for disease prevention.
I had gone to donate supplies to be used for first aid and hand washing. I had gone with the intent to provide each teacher with a mini first aid kit and each headmaster or headmistress with a large first aid kit and many bars of soap. Instead, I found that schools have no water sources and teachers do not know how to treat even a basic cut. I handed the soap over to the headmistresses and headmasters of all five schools with information on how to create a hand washing facility. I learned that it would be best for the headmasters/mistresses to keep all the first aid supplies in their offices so that teachers do not use them for their own personal need. I realized that hand washing and first aid supplies can only be used if people know how to use them.
I had gone to teach teachers and administrators about first aid. Instead, I realized not everything could be done in a month and that sometimes it is best to pass along responsibilities to someone else. I gave the first aid supplies to each school with the agreement that Lucy, a Ugandan nurse, would come show them how to use them. I handed this part of the project over to Lucy, who will carry it out as part of her outreach. I also left her with the task of carrying out my health education program in the four schools I was unable to educate.
My time at the clinic was spent mainly talking with the nurses and observing health care. Because the clinic was the lowest level medical center, all diagnoses were made mainly based on symptom evaluation. There were times I would spend hours at the clinic and not a single patient would come by. When a patient did, I would go into the examination room with the nurse and patient. The nurse would translate the discussion for me, as most of the locals do not speak English. Once I got to take a woman's blood pressure. It was extremely high and she was diagnosed with hypertension. Another time I got to listen to the lungs of a child diagnosed with pneumonia. This for me was an eye-opening experience. Being a person who has had pneumonia on numerous occasions, I was shocked at how the diagnosis was made. Each time I have been diagnosed with pneumonia, I have received a chest x-ray, but without this resource, the nurse made the diagnosis strictly by listening to breathing sounds. I wondered how accurate this diagnosis was and whether the nurse could really distinguish between breathing sounds to know which ones were associated with pneumonia or whether the diagnosis was completely unsubstantiated.
Here in the
On one of my last days in
When not at the clinic or doing health education, I spent time working with two
The McGill students returned to
Because of how slow paced everything was and because there wasn't always much going on at the clinic, I added a third part to my project. This part consisted of visiting different levels of medical centers. The clinic I was in was a level 2 medical clinic, the lowest possible care center. I traveled to a nearby village, where I was shown around a level 3 medical clinic. The main difference between the two was the presence of a laboratory and maternity ward in the level 3 center. I also visited a hospital and nursing school in the town of
I walked away from the clinic, from the schools, from
Four weeks in
In terms of health care, I learned many little things this summer that I can take with me into the nursing world. For one, being able to witness and observe a health care system in a developing country has given me a better understanding of the importance of the medical and scientific advancements we have here in the
Sunday, August 16, 2009
I was going to write a blog reflecting on my project and my experiences, but because I have to do a write-up for my project as part of my Advanced Study Grant, I think I will wait and post that.
For now, here are some pictures (not the ones I originally said I was going to post).