Google+ WTN Haiti Partnership: He is deaf

Sunday, March 20, 2011

He is deaf

There are now many more deaf students at St. Vincent's, about 80 I think. On Thursday, our second day of clinic, we asked the teachers to bring the children to the clinic, one classroom at a time. Unfortunately they sent all the deaf kids at once. This is a problem because we have 2 physician assistants, one MD and one podiatrist seeing patients, and only one Sign Language interpreter (Sherye). She shuttled back and forth from room to room and to the pharmacy to try to help. At one point I believe we had 50 deaf people either in the hallway waiting to be seen, in one of the exam rooms or crowded in front of the pharmacy waiting for prescriptions. At this point Amy came out of her exam room and said "I cant do this!" She speaks fluent Kreyol but that doesnt help with the deaf kids! It's the closest I have ever seen Amy to a meltdown. We asked the staff to bring us some hearing kids to balance out the logjam, but anytime you ask to have something done in Haiti it takes 3 or 4 conversations and much lapsed time before your request is granted. Meanwhile I learned how to say "My name is Doctor Susan" and "Take a deep breath" in sign language, I could also ask a few basic questions like "fever? diarrhea?, etc" Several of the kids had no obvious or visible malady, but came in to tell me their problem was that they couldn't hear. Yeah, I get that. Sherye says they think the doctor is there to fix their problem, so they tell me their problem is they are deaf. Also the blind kids would say "I have trouble with my eyes". Dont I wish I had an eye doctor to help them? The best I can do is offer them some eye drops for relief from itching or burning.

On a lighter note, Sherye says one of the kids, Remy, is hearing but he has so many deaf friends that he signs fairly well. She talked to him for several minutes in Sign, until one of the other kids told her "He can hear." She said she rarely gets fooled by a kid pretending to be deaf, but Remy apparently was very good at it!

So if any of you know someone who can sign, please tell them about our work. We have a job for them! Sherye is as important to make the clinic run as the doctors are.

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