Areas of St. Vincent and the Grenadines have minimal access to medical specialists and equipment. Fortunately, these areas are served through partnerships like the one forged by the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Rotary Club and Trinity School of Medicine through the Village Doctor exercise.
On the most recent trip, the community of Fancy (the most northerly residential area on the eastern side of the island of St. Vincent itself) welcomed a caravan of vehicles full of medical professionals and Trinity students with the major aim of providing medical care and provisioning (or, where necessary, re-provisioning) of life saving medicines.
Faculty and leadership from Trinity, Drs. Nedd, Pantha, Morris-Patterson, Ibrahim, Reymann, and Paudel, as well as twelve fifth term students, made up our contingent this time. The other doctors involved in the exercise were Dr. Ken Onu, ophthalmologist; Dr. Miriam Sheridan, general practitioner and pediatrician; Dr. Francois Truchot, dentist; and Dr. Rosemarie Boyle, pediatrician. Trinity’s fifth term students once again operated the triage area, receiving valuable experience in the practice of checking vital signs and learning (under observation) to exercise good clinical judgments in linking patients with relevant specialists.
The physicians saw to their patients whileTrinity students shadowed and assisted. The visiting doctors encouraging discussion of cases, including suggested diagnoses from students.
Two years ago, Fancy was struck by tragedy when a bus transporting a large number of its young residents went off the road and into the Atlantic Ocean, with eighteen dead. The subsequent outpouring of love for the remote village from the rest of St. Vincent left as large a mark on the community as the accident itself, standing as both low and high water marks in terms of tragedy and triumph. With that said, it was a special honor for the visiting medical personel and students to be told that their visit was reminiscent of that same outpouring of love, and to experience it without any acompanying tragedy was tremendously impactful.
All in, one hundred and twenty-three patients were seen during the visit, with each patient interacting with an average of three specialists, ensuring as great a breadth and depth of care as possible. Any with ocular or dental issues beyond the scope of the resources available that day were invited back to Kingstown for free advanced care.
Trinity students were similarly moved. Asia McIntosh began in triage and tranistioned to pediatrician Dr. Boyle. “It was very informative. I haven’t had a lot of pediatric experience and I found it to be compelling hands-on exposure,” she said, “I also hadn’t practiced respiratory exams in a bit, so the clinical refresher was very valuable.”
Another student, Emma Mancinilauded the exercise because of how it brought what she’d been studying in her basic sciences into such stark, practical application. “The texts give us the general idea and concepts, but seeing a patient is just incredible.” She carefully pointed out, “Because every case is different, we got to see how the same issues can result in different presentations. It’s so useful. What we did here today helps us to recognize when we’re seeing something that we’ve learned about.”
Trinity School of Medicine is, as always, proud of its students’ performance and spirit of giving as well as their eagerness to learn. We are so excited to continue to provide these sorts of opportunities for its students, and it gives us no end of joy to know that can assist in providing much needed care to those in need.