Nestled in the village of Marmont, in Haiti’s impoverished Central Plateau, sits the adopted clinic of the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS). Outside the clinic, long lines of Haitian men, women, and children have formed, waiting their turn to receive essential medical care and health education information from SMHS, the School of Public Health and Health Services, and the School of Nursing alumni, faculty, and students.
During the seven-day medical mission, July 8–15, the team saw more than 1,100 patients and treated problems as varied as malnutrition and respiratory issues in children to adult diabetes, arthritis, and hypertension. The multidisciplinary team also performed examinations and administered much-needed medications. “These students practiced medicine entirely through interviews and physical examinations,” says Jack Summer, M.D. ’81, clinical associate professor of medicine at SMHS. “They were forced to rely on their hands and clinical skills to treat patients because medical tests and tools were scarce.”
Summer, who has led the program since 2005, accompanied this year’s group, which included Deborah Pulver, M.D., and Jeremy Kern, M.D., both from Children’s National Medical Center; Margorie Graziano, R.N., Jacqueline Wavelet, R.N., and Erin Yealgey, D.N.P., from the GW School of Nursing; and six medical students, four public health students, three nursing students, and one pre-med undergraduate. For Amanda Eisenberg, M.S. IV, traveling to Haiti was a definite culture shock, from coping with the heat and humidity to witnessing firsthand the poverty that Haitians endure daily. “I was given the opportunity to treat and see many different medical conditions, such as a bowlegged 3-year-old boy with rickets, and a 40-year-old woman with a massive goiter,” says Eisenberg.