The sweet smell of a sleeping girl in my arms once again….hmm I miss my babies. Next to me, her mother lays on a bed in the clinic. In the middle of having a tooth pulled, she passed out. Now, she is resting with a drink and oxygen. Suddenly another family member whisks the baby girl away. Reluctantly, I let her go. My work here is done.
This clinic, the Alcantara Rural Health Unit (RHU), is buzzing with activity today. Mondays are supposed to be focused on children under five but young and old come just the same. They are seen by a nurse or doctor (depending on their needs), receive their medications or prescription, and leave; a total visit to the clinic taking 30-45 minutes. The clinic has a flow, five steps of care taking place mostly in 1 room about the size of a 2 car garage and a few fans.
The patients fill out basic information on a paper, get vitals and then have their medical history interview with a nurse. If required, they see the doctor, like for hypertension or diabetes mellitus management and finally get their drugs or prescription. There are 4 drugs they can receive for free: losartan, metoprolol, metformin and amlodipine. The funds for the drugs, along with other medical supplies all come out of a 500,000 pesos budget. At the clinic there are also separate rooms for laboring women and another for deliveries.
At the RHU they do good work. The medical support staff know their patients and provide them with health services and smiles. Dr. Jobin, the head of the RHU is a local and seems to know everyone.
The national department of health has multiple goals for all the RHUs, which all fall into several areas: Leadership and governance, health financing, health human resources, access to medicine and technology, health information system, and health service delivery
It is up to the local government and health unit to design and implement programs to reach the national goals. In 2012, Alcantara was doing poorly, with only 2 goals in the green.
By 2016, nearly all of the goals are green.
Changes in the health delivery system, Project SUSAN and TB dots programs are some of the initiatives that helped turn Alcantara RHU around. I look forward to learning how they are able to do more for the health of this community with fewer resources. I know there must be lessons I can learn and use in my own future underserved community. I am ready to lean Alcantara Rural Health Unit: Teach me!