The U.S. Air Force's Pacific Angel 2011 and HARRT (Humanitarian Assistance Rapid Response Team) clinic opened outside of Pekanbaru, Indonesia, with a crowd of excited patients. Morning hours were spent seeing the first patients and developing systems to efficiently move people between medical stations.
Volunteer Midwife Noreen Prokuski’s first patient was a healthy pregnant woman excited to have an American doctor tell her that everything was going well. Volunteer Susan Opas, a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, first assisted with an IM injection and spent the remainder of the day moving between areas, evaluating and diagnosing a wide variety of ailments and situations. Both Project HOPE volunteers kept plenty busy with the stream of patients coming in the zippered tent doors.
Overall, the clinic saw 492 patients on its first day, the longest lines for dental work and optometry. Several required surgery well beyond anything the HARRT was capable of handling, so local medical providers were consulted with recommendations for nearby hospitals. Because government health care programs only pay for services in a person’s home district, several patients not from this area haven’t sought help because they aren’t eligible in Pekanbaru. One 38-year-old woman initially judged to be pregnant ended up being afflicted with an enormous tumor and has never had surgery for that very reason.
Tomorrow should see even higher numbers of patients through the doors of the tent clinic once word spreads of the services available. The U.S. Army’s Sight, Sound and Smile team of surgeons also arrive to work in a nearby hospital performing cleft pallet surgeries. Weather forecasts predict continued heat at or just below 100 degrees F with the increased potential for more rain, something that would surely discourage the amount of patients from this rural area from seeking medical care.
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