November 5, 2014
Dr. Wilsignac and Charlotte White visiting with patient at Darbonne
Sitting on her mother’s lap at the clinic, the little girl, age four, looked feverish but fairly alert and quiet. Yes, the chart showed a fever. She was breathing fast and her mother said she had been sick for over a week, but was not getting better. “She has respiratory problems often,” said her mother, “ and has been to the doctor several times this year with breathing problems.” She says her head hurts. The sounds through the stethoscope indicated she perhaps had pneumonia. But wait. I asked one of the clinic doctors,
Dr. Latagnac Wilsignac, for a consult on how to write the prescription she needed. He confirmed the lung sounds and helped write the prescription in French. But then he reminded me of a major consideration – malaria. “The rains started again recently,” he said, “and with them comes an increase in mosquito bites and malaria.” So I wrote an order for the malaria test, which required a finger stick in the same clinic. Since I left the clinic before the results of the malaria test, I cannot give an end to that possible diagnosis. But this experience reminded me of the constant threat of malaria.
Malaria has killed many children, especially when it arrived on top of another infection. Or was it malaria first in this little girl, which then caused the infection in the lungs? She was started on the antibiotic today, but Dr. Latagnac will decide whether to add the malaria medicine. How fortunate this little girl is to have his care.
Dr. Latagnac Wilsignac grew up in Leogane, a city with a population of about 200,000 in Haiti. While he was in his second year of college, he applied for a scholarship to medical school in Cuba. This program provides a full scholarship to medical school. Upon graduation, the graduate must return to Haiti and work a year in medical service in the community. Dr. Latagnac competed with 1,000 applicants, and was one of 100 people chosen to attend the medical school. He retuned to Haiti in 2008 after graduation in medical school and first worked in a sanatorium for tuberculosis. After the 2010 earthquake, he moved to employment at the Darbonne Clinic, which is affiliated with the Episcopal Church and situated far from the city.
Dr. Latagnac Wilsignac, Darbonne Clinic
After a morning of working with Dr. Latagnac Wilsignac, I sat down to interview him. Towards the end of the interview, I asked him, “What makes you work in a clinic so rural as the Darbonne Clinic?” He thought about his response before struggling to express himself in English. “I want to work in a place with the people far from medical help and to give them the first care.” He then clarified that he wished to give primary care. Then he explained that some patients walk four hours down out of the mountains to come to this clinic for medical care. Thank God for Dr. Latagnac Wilsignac and other dedicated staff who care for sick people coming to the Darbonne Clinic. And thank God for those who help to support Darbonne Clinic.
Hilton Head Island, SC