We arrived at the Grenada Planned Parenthood Association St. George’s Clinic 9:30 am Monday morning where we met with Ms. Jeanine Gill. The clinic is in the heart of town on a street we later learned is informally called “Cockroach Alley.” Why is that? After asking around, we are still a bit unsure as to why. However, I can assure you I did not spot any cockroaches! We met the staff and took a tour of the clinic. The area in which they work is quite small: only a few seats in a waiting area and three exam rooms. A physician is sometimes “in house” but not always.
Ms. Gill took us to her office down two sets of outdoor stairs where we started to discuss the project. She wanted us to collect the data on women who have had pap smears at their clinic. They are concerned with the amount of women that have come in with abnormal results or have Bacterial Vaginosis (BV). She explained they do a good job of screening women and coupling it with education. However, it is difficult to encourage women to get screened for things that are associated with cancer. Getting people in the door is one of their biggest challenges. Many people on the island associate it with death Ms. Gill says, because most people on the island are diagnosed at a later stage of disease. In addition, herbal remedies and medicinal drugs are commonly used on the island, which discourages many people from seeking a licensed physician.
After an in-depth discussion, we received notebooks containing hundreds of records we would extract and produce statistics that support the clinic’s claims and concerns about what they are seeing on the island. We decided to just focus on year 2013 which means we were in charge of inputting almost 600 records into an excel spreadsheet in order to analyze them.
The first day we only got through 50 records. Leaving the un-air conditioned room that sat between two nurseries, I felt a bit defeated. How were we going to manage inputting everything and give a useful presentation on Friday? It was a lot to take in on the first day of work.
We came back to the hotel around 4:30 pm, exhausted from the day. However, as I sat outside, I realized, we are here to provide a service. We are their “consultants” for the week and it is our job to listen, ask questions in order to understand more, and work to the best of our abilities.
So over the next two and half days, Stefanie dictated data from the notebooks as Nana and I searched records and recorded results on our computers. At about 10 am Thursday morning, we finished going through the year of 2013 pap smears and had inputted all of the data.
I honestly was not confident we would get it all done at first. It was not what we were expecting because the information we needed was supposed to be more accessible, but we adjusted and made the changes needed in order to make the project work.
Being in a new environment I believe that is half the battle. It is essential to remain open-minded and to adapt as challenges come your way. There are barriers we were bound to face, but our dedication in producing a final product helped us reach our goal. Having seen its incredible potential this past week, I look forward to hearing where the project goes. Working with the clinic as partners, we learned invaluable lessons from them and hopefully they learned from us and together we were able to produce a product I hope will be useful for their future.