‘Til the Cows Come Home - A Long Day

The staff at the clinic work long hours. They start at 7:30 a.m. and work until almost sunset, six and a half days per week. By law, the physicians, however, work an abbreviated 6-hour day. This can be difficult at times because some of our patients start out from their homes at day break and walk for hours down mountain trails to come to the clinic. This is particularly difficult in the rainy season (October to early March) when trails are wet, making footing slippery and streams along the way flood their banks. However once the patient is at the clinic, the staff does everything they can to make sure the patient is attended to by the doctor, even if the doctor must stay a little while longer at the clinic. To do otherwise would be unfair to the patient seeking attention.

Patients do not understand the concept of appointments, and when they are sick, they come as early as possible in the morning to the clinic—on foot, by bus, in the back of pick-up trucks by bicycle, a few by three-wheeled motor taxi—and all wait their turn. Depending upon the number of patients on any given day, their wait could extend into the afternoon hours.  Seldom are the crowds unruly and they simply wait patiently until they are seen without complaining. The staff physician sees approximately 34 patients per day, but sometimes there can be as many as 45 or more patients. Thankfully, he is not consistently seeing that many patients per day but patient numbers are on the threshold of more than what a doctor can see per day, so we are on the verge of having to add a second doctor to the staff. Dr. Alex is doing a remarkable job in treating patients. He sees a large number of diabetic cases, cuts, abrasions, and malnourished children. He is even doing some remarkable surgeries.

At the end of a busy and tiring day, the staff boards the small clinic bus and departs for home, frequently arriving when cattle are being moved from outlying pastures to more secure fields closer to home for their overnight stay. Both passenger traffic and cattle share the same road.