Sonograms in the Slums

Dr. Julie performs a sonogram on a patient

Last month, NPFS welcomed an added addition to the St. Luc Medical Clinic in the slum of Wharf Jeremie: sonograms. Visiting OB/Gyn Dr. Julie brought her GE Portable Ultrasound, a compact, battery powered sonogram that allows ultrasounds to be administered in the most remote conditions. Expectant mothers from ages to 14 to 29 lined up to see the first-ever prenatal images of their babies.

Wharf Jeremie, a slum built on a rubbish dump in Port-au-Prince, has some of the worst health indicators in the world. Many of the second or third time mothers who visited the clinic delivered their previous children in their homes, tepid shacks where swine and other animals roam freely. The closest hospital is a private facility that charges an admission fee and requires that patients purchase their own medicine and supplies. As the sonograms were performed, all patients were informed of the free care available at St. Damien’s, and educated about the benefits of giving birth within a medical facility.

“It’s unbelievable the way people here live,” Dr. Julie commented as we walked through the crowded school house adjacent to the clinic. “I write my friends and families, but it’s hard to find the words to describe it. There’s no electricity, no sanitation, it’s unbelievable.” Almost as unbelievable as being able to do ultrasounds in one of the poorest places on earth.

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