Thursday, November 06, 2008

Tales from the outreach trail

On the last day of the CHEST meeting, before leaving for the airport, the HPS crew had one last stop to make. When I know we’re going to be in a particular area, I try to get census bureau data about the Puerto Rican population in that area, map it out, and then reference that against area hospitals and clinics to find the “medical” points of contact most likely to see a patient with HPS.

I had found a clinic that catered to a mostly Puerto Rican population in the Philadelphia area. Donna contacted them and they were very gracious. It was arranged that on their way to the airport the HPS team would stop by with lunch for the doctors and do a presentation on HPS.

Easier said than done. Picture this.

That morning before leaving the hotel Donna went to a deli around the corner and ordered food for 22 doctors plus several bottles of soda. She then carried all this food back to the hotel where Ashley and Dr. Guichico from the NIH were waiting. If you’ve never traveled with an HPS’er with lots of medical needs, it can be an eye opening experience. I typically have an entire suitcase devoted to nothing but my medical supplies. Ashley has even more stuff to carry with her. And, Dr. Gochuico had her scientific poster from the poster session.

So, into a taxi the trio went with six suitcases, lunch for 22 and the poster.

When they arrived, the taxi driver advised as the suitcases were unloaded, “Get into the building quickly. This isn’t a good area.” Nothing like a warning from a taxi driver to put a little fear into you.

But as the taxi drove away, the trio discovered they were at the wrong address. Some very nice older ladies standing on the corner advised them that the clinic had recently moved and pointed to a new building more than a block away, uphill.

So, to the clinic the trio trekked, suitcases, posters, Ashley and her cane, several bottles of Coke and food in tow – oh if only I’d been there with my camera! What a sight it must have been!

The good news was the visit to the clinic was well worth the trip. One of the doctors knew he had a patient with HPS, and several of the others had patients they were going to refer for testing. And, the clinic was very interested in becoming a resource center for the Philadelphia area for patients with HPS.

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