Week 5 – Eric on Lesvos

While assisting in our clinic in the main camp this week, my team was responsible for sorting the shipments of medicine donated to us by organizations such as Médecins Sans Frontières and Red Cross. Working with our attending doctor on staff, several dozen boxes of medicine were sorted categorically and put into storage, ready to resupply the clinic when needed. In a camp that lacks so many of the amenities we are accustomed to in the West, the clinic has already become an absolute staple to the residents in the six short weeks since its implementation. Due to an overall lack of available medical care, the clinic is inundated with patients on a daily basis. Some patients begin to queue hours before the clinic’s opening time of 8 AM in order to secure one of the limited numbers of tickets for the day, as only approximately sixty people are seen each day due to the shortage of doctors on hand. After the last of the numbers are given out all other non-critical cases must wait to be seen by the other clinic that opens later in the evening. This poses a problem when the other clinic runs out of numbers and sends their excess patients back to our clinic the following morning. A frustrating cycle is created by this system, causing some residents with open wounds and chronic pain to suffer for several days without care.

Our clinic’s ability to operate relies completely upon donations of medicine and funds from all over the world. Costs of medicine alone have already consumed many of the internal resources originally allotted to the program, while inefficient collaboration between the healthcare providing organizations prevents the clinics in the camp from operating at their full potential. However, the clinical services provided to the camp residents is absolutely crucial, and because of this, our clinic is now beginning to gain the backing of larger organizations that possess the capacity to provide support on a long-term basis. Yet, the efficiency that the clinics can operate at will remain up to the internal staff members within, and my team will continue to focus on ways in which this system could be improved as we work alongside the clinic in the coming weeks.