Weeks like last week are one of the reasons I love coordinating our campus medical ministry!
Over a year ago, a staff member from our campus in St Louis found out she had cervical cancer. During her treatment, our staff came to form a relationship with an organization called Operation Blessing, who offered to do cervical cancer screenings in the community. Due to the overwhelming amount of women who showed up during their 3 day clinic, they originally agreed to come back later in the year.
Our staff knew these screenings were needed more often than this organization could provide alone, and they were needed all over the NW Zone – not just in their own community. Cervical cancer contributes to a high number of deaths in Haitian women, and prevention or early detection is unattainable since there are very few places in Haiti that provide screenings.
The need was great, so the plan changed. Ultimately, OB sent staff to train our St Louis staff so they could offer services weekly and do mobile clinics in the more remote areas of the Northwest Zone. Haitians helping Haitians serve their own communities – one of the coolest ways God works through NWHCM!
Caitlin, a missionary at the St Louis campus, was at the core of making these connections and helping the staff get their services up and running. We talked about the program and she explained that when training began, her coworker shared that her experience with diagnosis and treatment was painful. When she saw that as a result of her story, early detection was available in her area, she knew her journey with cancer wasn’t in vain. What a powerful story of faith to see God’s goodness in seemingly total darkness!
Earlier this summer, Caitlin told us that they would be traveling to our campus to provide these screenings to our community as their first mobile clinic! When I shared this with our medical staff in the Mole, they couldn’t have been more thrilled. The timing was somber, as most of our staff had attended the funeral of a staff members’ sister who died of cervical cancer just a week before the clinic.
As it often is in Haiti, the statistics we hear about things like malnutrition and healthcare access aren’t just numbers, they’re personal – our staff, their families, our community members. Immediately, our head nurse followed up with questions like “Do you think they’ll come every month? What about every two months?” She was ecstatic to be a part of helping host this kind of service for her community, and shared how she was certain it would make her peers feel at ease knowing their access to healthcare was expanding.
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Our St Louis campus is about a 5-7 hour truck ride from our campus here in the Mole. Three nurses from Stl, two staff members from OB, and Caitlin made a quick 72 hour trip to campus to provide 2 days of screenings for our area.
In preparation for their arrival, our staff wanted to be sure their quick trip would be efficient. We made radio announcements downtown, and over 100 women came to campus to pick up cards to attend the screenings. We rearranged our typical clinic set up to accommodate the privacy needed for 2 exam rooms and 4 stations of screening. In addition to the women from the community, all of our national mission staff were able to attend the clinic in a time that worked with their work schedule.
The cervical cancer/hpv clinic ran for just 2 days and saw 135 women total. They worked non-stop, starting by doing a 20-30 minute education with the women. After the education was finished, each woman sat down with staff to complete some general and health information paperwork. The women then were called into a station to complete the screening. Once the screening portion began, the process was quite quick. Almost all women who tested positive were able to receive cryotherapy treatment immediately. The only exception to this was a woman who unknowingly had a case more severe than we could treat, who thankfully was able to be referred to another hospital.
Our medical staff worked alongside the visiting staff – filling out the paperwork, talking with the women, and helping in the exam rooms. They were thrilled to be hosting such a life-changing service! Of the 135 women tested, we had a 19% positivity rate. Although this number is extremely high, there is peace in the blessing that almost every single woman received treatment.
Our head nurse talked to the head nurse from St Louis about what other areas in the Northwest would benefit from this, offering help to spread the word and taking interest in one day learning herself how to provide the screenings. Because of the high positivity rate, we made plans for the women who tested positive to return in a few months for a follow-up.
The education, screenings, and treatment provided weekly in STL and at mobile clinics is undoubtably saving the lives of Haitian women. It’s providing them with more information about their bodies and increasing the access they have to advanced healthcare. Our prayer is that in the future, this program can become a staple in our own clinic and community as well.
As I said, weeks like this one make all the work we do – the simple, exhausting, behind the scenes, everyday work so worth it. We are so thankful for the past week and what it’s meant to the women in our zone. God is moving in many ways and having a front row seat in some small and large ways is the greatest joy!
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As a Christian mission, our medical ministry is a core program because it was a core piece of the servant example set by Christ on earth. We’re endlessly grateful for those who support these ministries by sharing, reading, praying, and giving. If you’d like to support by helping stabilize and expand the healthcare services we provide, there’s two ways to give below:
CHECKS CAN BE MADE TO:
NWHCM | 7984 West State Rd 32 | Lebanon, IN, 46052
(please note: MOLE MEDICAL in the memo/notes section)
ONLINE GIVING CAN BE DONE HERE:
Online Giving (please note: MOLE MEDICAL in the memo/notes section)