Clémania Virgile is a 71-year-old woman, mother of 5, and a hot-meal vendor in Pointe Sable, a seaside village in the Sud department, where she lives with her children.
In February 2015, she had to undergo spinal surgery following severe osteoarthritis. However, since this intervention, her life has not been the same. “When I left the hospital,” she explains, “the doctors gave me a cane that helped me walk, but the pains never left me. I can't stand on my feet for too long. I have tinglings every night in the hip area and all the way down my body to my legs. It's almost unbearable."
Prior to her surgery, Clémania was an energetic person. She loved her job, cooking having always been her passion, and she had been lucky enough to make it her profession. “It's not at all easy for an extrovert like me who likes to be independent,” explains Clémania. Instead of working, I sit all day doing nothing. Instead of cooking, I wait for my meals to be brought to me, instead of interacting with my customers, I have become a simple spectator and I watch my children do all my activities for me.
When she learned that the Zanmi Lasante mobile clinic was arriving in the town of Port-Salut, several kilometers from her village, Clémania went in the back of a motorcycle, through a long dirt road, all the way to the clinic site. She joined hundreds of people patiently awaiting the arrival of doctors. Supported by her crutch and accompanied by her eldest son, she was received by Dr. Michel Edouard, who prescribed her the appropriate pain relievers for her leg pain as well as other medications to treat her diabetes and high blood pressure.
“Shortly after taking the painkillers, I felt transformed,” says Clémania. “I may give the impression of exaggerating, but for the first time in six years, I feel like I have gotten my life back. I'm not disillusioned, I know the pains will return, but thanks to the kind doctors at this mobile clinic, I have enough to overcome them. In addition, medical care and medicines are completely free. What more can I ask for? "
Each week, Zanmi Lasante's mobile clinic and medical teams travel hundreds of kilometers to various locations, including localities affected by the August 14th earthquake and tropical storm Grace, and other areas where no health service previously existed. They provide basic emergency and primary care and can serve up to 300 people per day. The team includes doctors, nurses, psychologists, and medical assistants. The clinical team sets up several stations for patients to move from triage to assessment, pharmacy, and treatment stations. They take care of everything from earthquake-related injuries to prenatal issues, as many of these patients do not have easy access to care or can no longer make it to their local clinic, which collapsed during the earthquake.
For many, like Clémania Virgile, the Zanmi Lasante mobile clinics are their only access to healthcare.