I am going to blog about today’s work and then go back and blog about the past few days as I have time. Today was amazing and heart wrenching at the same time. Terri and I went into St Ann’s Bay Hospital to meet Dr Titus, the Chief Medical Officer, and the man responsible for moving our 200 women up on the appointment calendar for needed biopsies. When we got here we didn’t realize that he was going to do biopsies for our women the day of their mammogram if they needed it. This is so amazing – we hardly get service like this in the states. I had to wait two weeks between my diagnostic mammogram and my biopsy (this is why I left Charlotte Radiology and switched to the breast center at Novant – they are much more timely!) I originally reached out to Dr Titus to see if he could help us with our 200 mammogram project – little did I know what he faces every day – and this is before we connected with the Jamiaca Cancer Society.
Dr Titus is just awesome. He took us all over the hospital and explained the history, what’s happening now, and what he hopes for the future. I couldn’t get over his demeanor and the way the staff responded to him – he is obviously very well respected here and also very loved. He stopped to talk and introduce us to interns, nurses, the radiologist, people in the lab, and the list goes on. They have over 90 doctors and many nurses and staff. And many many patients. Being with him was the amazing part of our day – but what we saw and learned is what broke my heart. They have two – yes two – operating tables. So if they are doing routine surgery and there is a trauma or tragic accident, you can imagine what happens. They have one radiologist for the entire hospital. One. You can imagine how busy that doctor is. The hospital sees over 40,000 patients in a year. Most of it has no air conditioning. By 9:30 this morning the pharmacy had at least 75 people in line. And the NICU had the tiniest little babies I have ever seen – and 20 little beds for 20 little tiny babies. We saw a chemo room that barely held 2 beds, one IV pole, a small tv and an overhead closet that held a little bit of chemo. But here you pick up your chemo and bring it with you. Say what? Yes. That’s what I said. No chemo nurses here. Chemo patients share the same nurses as the ward does outside of that room – that ward probably had 50 beds in it. What is our ratio – one chemo nurse to every three patients? I think that’s what mine was. The list of needs here goes on and on. I received a huge perspective check today in comparing what we take for granted in the US versus what is here. We complain about our doctors being over-booked and our appointments running an hour behind. How about waiting in line, with only a few places to sit and no AC, for six or seven hours? Sounds hard right – but what if it’s not you who is sick – what if it’s your child? Our kids are hard to handle and deal with so we buy them video systems for the back of our cars so they can watch tv as they ride in a comfy car seat in an air conditioned car.
Boy did I need this perspective check – as hard as this knowledge is to carry – I needed to hear it and see it. I need to figure out a way to do this 200 women mammography project each year. Somehow. Here – where my heart is called. I know we need free mammograms in the US. I know people need help in the US. I get that. And if you know me you know that I invest my heart and time into the breast cancer community in Charlotte. As we are called to help others nearby we are also called to help the less fortunate globally. We are to help people. However that looks for you – it’s what we are called to do. Not just at Christmas. But everyday. Time. Love. Money. Food. Clothing. Aren’t we supposed to ask God to break our hearts for what breaks His?