by House Officer II, Jamil Neme, M.D.
At the end of March, I had the good fortune of going on the medical mission trip to Jamaica. I have no shortage of words when describing my time on the island or my interaction with the locals, but I’ll keep this short.
I accompanied a group of 19 medical students, 5 pharmacy students, and 2 physical therapy students. This was in addition to staff, which included some your favorites like Dr. Mathews and Dr. Riley. Over three and a half days, we were able to help 465 patients, which set an all new record for this annual mission trip. The main clinic was in Falmouth (just outside Montego Bay) and is a mainstay of the community.
Every day we had the opportunity to also visit smaller, more rural clinics. A highlight for me, however, was when I took small groups of students to home visits around the various clinics, for patients who were homebound for one reason or another. If seeing the stark contrast in clinics wasn’t enough, this was an insight into how the poor of Jamaica lived. Some homes were no larger than two small bedrooms and often having corrugated metal for walls. It was also a look through time with various trinkets and Polaroids displayed proudly. We encountered everything from plenty of scabies in children, STI’s, 101-year-old for checkups, and even a fall by goat.
It wasn’t all work, however. We made sure to catch a little sun and sand in MoBay. Out of the 40 people on the trip, I was one of only two people to get fried. Apparently there’s more to this sunscreen business than I thought.
I apologize if this sounds cliche, but my parting memory might just be how grateful our patients were. We helped a lot of people who may otherwise have succumbed to worsening hypertension or diabetes, and others who just wanted a routine checkup from “the American doctors”. We learned the words, ate the food, lived the life for just one week, and I would absolutely do it again. Not too bad for my first medical volunteer trip. Oh, and I’m confident I’m Zika-free, irie.