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Cuban-trained American doctor helps save lives in Haiti

by Daniela
by: Chasiti Falls
As an Indiana working-class native, I was deeply moved after Haiti's devastating earthquake of 2010. I was in Cuba at that time in my forth year of medical school at the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM).
The school sought out a group of Americans from the 2010 graduating class to incorporate into the "Brigada Medica Cubana." This is a famous brigade that rushes to the aide of neighboring and developing countries after a disaster.
One of these new doctors and 2010 ELAM graduate, Dr. Gregory Wilkinson, still works as a general practitioner in Haiti, servicing the dilapidated communities from tents. He is completing a family practice residency program.
Wilkinson comes from Oakland, Calif., studied at Merritt Community College, and then sociology at Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y. With Jamaican roots, Wilkinson said he is proud and eager to complete the medical school's scholarship requirement of working in an underserved community, as he is doing in Haiti.
Dr. Wilkinson shared his story with me about how he adapted to his new home. (Slideshow follows the interview.)
Where have you been living?
I have been in the village Lester, center of the largest department in Haiti named Artibonite, and includes the river near the cholera outbreaks.
What are your primary duties?
First order of business was the cholera treatment. The higher incidence, the harder the work. We operate in six-day cycles. For example, one can start off the week with consultations, where you classify patients into two categories- cholera and no cholera. After consultations one rotates next to CTC (the Cholera Treatment Center). Next one rotates into pediatrics for one day and adults the consecutive day. Lastly, one does a 16-hour on-call shift followed by a 24-hour free day before you restart the cycle all over again.
Due to the great separation of families, are you able to treat children if a parent is not present.
Yes, but it is rare a child will arrive unsupervised. Some adult will accompany them, be it a friend or distant relative. Most people are brought in by somebody else, especially the critical cases. We have grown accustomed to reacting quickly when we see someone brought into us in the wheelbarrow, which is a Haitian taxi.
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