Bethesda Medical Clinic was started by OMS in the late 1960’s. It was built with only one wing and over the years has expanded to 4 different wings. The clinic is open Monday to Friday 8:30 to 4 and there are specific days for specific services, however anyone can come on any day for general consultations.. On average, the clinic treats between 100-150 patients per day. The patients pay one set price which covers everything they need regardless of how much medication that is. Many still cannot afford to pay this small price and Bethesda has a special fund to help those people who are in desperate need of help.
There are around 35 full time Haitian staff in the clinic. All of them are Christians and work not only to help the patients physically, but also spiritually as they demonstrate their faith in Christ in all they do. There are 2 pastors on staff at Bethesda and many people come to know the saving grace of Jesus through the sharing of the Gospel by the staff.
Typical day at Bethesda
Patients start to arrive at the clinic at about 5am. Some patients are from the local community and neighboring towns, and others may have walked 2-3 hours to get there. When they arrive they are given a ticket with a number on it that indicates their turn in line to see the doctor. Our clinic pastor starts patient devotions at 8am and the staff meet together for devotions at the same time. A different staff member leads devotions each day, and we pray together for the clinic, for each other, for the patients we will see that day, and for the country of Haiti.
After devotions, patients are then called into the vital signs room where their weight, temp, and blood pressure is taken and documented. They are then sent to be seen by the doctor or nurse who is consulting. Following the consultation, they are then sent to the appropriate services: lab, pharmacy, PT, or x-ray.
General Consultations: A patient can come any day of the week to be seen by a doctor or nurse. We have 2 doctors and 3 nurses on staff at Bethesda who consult each day. Typical diagnosis include malaria, colds, worms, scabies, and GI problems.
TB clinic: The TB clinic is run on Fridays. There is also a feeding program for patients because it is important for TB patients to have food, as the effectiveness of their medicine depends on it. Bethesda pays for these patients to receive rice, oil, flour and beans each month along with their medicine. Each week there is an education class about the disease and treatment, and throughout this program many of the patients become Christians. TB is a very treatable disease and when patients finish their rounds of treatment, they receive a certificate of completion stating their accomplishment of the program and cure from the disease.
Pregnant women clinic: Each Wednesday is especially for soon to be mothers. They come once a month for a check-up and assessment of their pregnancy. The nurse approximates how far a long the mother is according to the measurement of their stomachs and checks with a Doppler machine for the heartbeat. Each woman is given advice about the birth of their baby, especially if they are going to be giving birth at home. They are given a birthing kit which consists of a small razor blade to cut the cord, a piece of gauze, a belly band, and a pair of gloves for the person delivering the baby. These supplies are wrapped up in a drape which can be used for the baby to land on when it first comes out!Bethesda now has a maternity ward where mothers can com to have their babies delivered.
AIDS clinic: We have 4 staff members who work in this clinic: 1 doctor, 2 nurse counselors and 1 social worker. Anyone at anytime can come and be tested for HIV. Patients do not need to pay to be tested or for any of their medicine. If they are positive, the nurse counselors are there to help them deal with this emotionally, educate them on the disease, and explain how the medicine works. There is also group counseling sessions which help patients to accept their diagnosis and realize there are other people who are going through the same thing as them.
X-ray: Our x-ray machine has been up and running since July 2010. Finding x-ray capabilities in the north of Cap Haitian is very difficult, not to mention expensive so having one at Bethesda is a blessing.
Pharmacy: We have 2 staff working in the pharmacy and towards the end of the day this is the busiest department of the clinic. Our pharmacy depends a lot on international donations, as there are certain medicines which are not readily available here in Haiti. Other medicine and supplies can be purchased here, but Bethesda still relies heavily on their supporters to help assist them in buying everything they need.
Baby clinic: Each Thursday mothers bring their babies in to have their monthly check-ups. If we see children that are malnourished, there is a feeding program that provides children 0-6 months with milk and vitamins. From 6months-3 years, we give them rice, beans, and oil. Children who come that don’t have parents are given clothes, bottles, diapers, and medicine. We usually see from 50-80 babies each week. This program is made possible only by donations from international supporters. They are always in need of milk, clothes, bottles, diapers, multivitamin liquid, toys, cereal, and medicine for diaper rash to help support these children.
Laboratory: We have 5 staff who work in this department. We offer a wide variety of testing, including but not limited to, TB, AIDS, malaria, typhoid, STDs, blood tests, urine samples, stool samples, pregnancy tests, parasites, worms, etc.
Emergency room/minor surgery room: We have a 3 bed ER and frequently have patients for IV fluids or oxygen throughout the day. Next to this room is our minor surgery OR.
Hypertension clinic(HTN): Patients come every Friday for their monthly check-up. We take their blood pressure and give them their medicine. While they are there, they also receive education on how to manage their blood pressure more effectively.
Chaplin- Each morning our clinic pastor runs devotions for the patients who come, where they sing, pray and hear the word of God. During the day the pastor speaks to many of the patients, sharing the gospel and praying with people. There are many patients who come to Bethesda expecting medical care however they find spiritual care also and each month people are coming to know the Lord.
Mobile Medical Clinics
One way which Bethesda reaches out to other communities is to run a mobile medical clinic. We put together a team from the clinic or visiting doctors / nurses to go out into remote villages that do not have access to medical care, and offer a 1 to 2 day clinic in their village,usually through their local church. Many of these people never see a doctor as there is nowhere available close by or they simply cannot afford to go. Patients arrive to see a nurse and doctor, then they move through to talk to one of our seminary students or pastor who will share the gospel and pray with them. Then onto the pharmacy to get the appropriate medication. Mobile medical clinic's are a great way of providing both medical and spiritual help in these places.
One little story
One morning we had a 6 month old baby who came to the clinic with his mother. He had had diarrhoea for 5 days and was extremely dehydrated. After one of our nurses, Ms. Ketlie, examined him, she thought there was a good chance that he had meningitis. The baby was treated at the clinic for 4 days, and during that time Ms. Ketlie had the opportunity to talk with the baby’s mother and hear her story. She was not a Christian and was living with her boyfriend who was heavily involved in voodoo. As Ms. Ketlie treated this little baby to a full recovery, she was able to share the Gospel with this woman who decided to put her trust in Christ and become a christian. The following week, the mom, dad, and baby came back to the clinic for a check-up. The baby had made a full recovery, and through the mother’s testimony and the power of the Holy Spirit, the father came to know Jesus. They had both come to tell Ms. Ketely how grateful they were for everything she did for them, and that they were planning on getting married and spending the rest of their lives serving God.