A day among the sick: “It’s like putting a temporary bandage”

A day among the sick, long and hard. It’s Monday and the activity of the country has restarted after the festive break of Sunday morning. Even the volunteers restart their activity in their area of expertise. Today I “followed” Stefania Falcone, 28-year-old from Salerno who has lived in Tradate for ten years. She works as cardiologist in the Circolo of Varese hospital and chose to use her vacation time to be a doctor in Mare Rouge. On Sunday morning, during mass was announced the opening of the “dispensary”, a kind of clinic that visits the sick, thanks to Stefania. Situated a half an hour’s walk from the centre. It takes much more from other localities of the country.
The official doctor hasn’t been available for several weeks and this morning the queue outside the dispensary was very large, at least 30 people, with many more coming. It is mostly the elderly, women and children.
Stefania, with the help of Cesar, the head of the clinic in the absence of the physician, start the visits straight away. But the difficulty to communicate in Creole, French translations, and the need to find for each case the appropriate medicine in the dispensary, one understands straightaway that you can’t please everyone, even without taking a lunch break (neither Stephanie nor the patients who probably don’t do it normally). Someone is sent home, but will return in the coming days, considering Stefania will stay for two weeks. “It hurts me to send them away but we can’t get them all done today**,” tells Stephanie between a visit and another. Do you have a lunch break? Those that are waiting don’t do it, why should I?“.
At the end of the day Stephanie visited 28 patients, is tired and tested, but she still tells how it went, without hiding a certain distrust: “We have made do with what we had. It consisted mostly of infections, intestinal especially. Other cases were more serious, but the means available are those that are. You do what you can, even if it feels like throwing a drop in the ocean. You should be able to improve the hygienic conditions, and bring to everyone drinking water. Treating these infections with an antibiotic is just a stopgap: If you do not change the conditions in general, everything will be like before in less than a month“.
Stefania will resume her work at the clinic tomorrow. And like this every day of the week. “This is like putting a bandage, I’m convinced that we should more to find a solution.”