Post by Kylie Chase from the University of Virginia
The most rewarding part of my experience in Gaborone has been the clinic visits. Each week, on Mondays and Tuesdays from 7:30-12, we go to a different clinic to observe and assist with basic tasks. I was initially shocked by many of the aspects of the clinics. For one, all medical records are on paper and are kept by the patients. Patients walk in with school notebooks or often folders decorated with magazine clippings filled with these pink and blue pieces of papers. There are no appointment times; the patients merely arrive when they can, most in the morning. There is no separation between adults and children. Most clinics only have nurses and doctors rotate to different locations and are in such high demand that they run around like crazy people from emergency room to screening to office all day. These clinics care for all kinds of people with all kinds of ailments.
I personally saw the circle of life in two weeks. Let me explain. I spent a morning with a doctor in the Extension 2 clinic. We had probably seen about five patients when a nurse came in the room and told the doctor he was needed urgently and to bring a death certificate. I froze. He saw the shock in my face as said, “Let’s go, are you scared?” I told myself, “Kylie you are entering the medical field, you have to be professional and learn to deal with things like this.” I took a deep breath and followed him to the emergency room. Paramedics rolled in a stretcher with a sheet over a body. They uncovered the sheet and the doctor began examining the body trying to determine the cause of death. I was standing in front of the stretcher in disbelief as I held what would be this man’s death certificate. He was only 29. His brother stood beside me. The doctor couldn’t figure out what had happened so we brought the brother into his office to write down details and to refer him to the mortuary at Princess Marina Hospital where they could do further tests. The brother left with tears in his eyes and we returned to the waiting line of patients.
The next week, I went to G-West clinic where there is a maternity ward. They had two expecting mothers preparing to deliver. We watched as the nurse checked one of the women for her degree of dilation. To her surprise, the woman was at eight centimeters and the nurse told us the baby would be expected to deliver in the next two hours. We were so excited to get to be present for a delivery and see a newborn baby. We made arrangements to be late for class if needed and ran to grab lunch so we would be back in time. As we walked back to the ward the nurse rushed us over. She was delivering! We stood outside the room and once the baby was safely welcomed to the world we got to go in and greet the newest world citizen. Her name was Angel and she was a beautiful angel indeed. From death to life- you never know what you’ll see in the clinics.