Saturday, April 12, 2014

Ten Things About Community Medicine

The Year Level 5: ICC Year blog posts - stories and anecdotes, patient encounters and hospital drama, and the many colors of UP med school from the perspective of a third year. Here's the sixteenth entry, under our two-week rotation in the Community Medicine section of the Department of Family and Community Medicine.

Note 1: As of this writing, we are officially done with third year medicine proper and have started the epic four-month vacation.

Note 2: Many people don't see Community Medicine as a real rotation. Because it really isn't, if we go by the definition of 'rotation' as 'see patients here, prescribe drugs there, do tests everywhere'. Community Medicine is an immersion; it is, as someone put it, the art of getting along with strangers.

1. Our group was assigned to Barangay 733, an urban-poor community along the border of Makati and Singgalong, Manila. The main health center is Fabella, which served as a sort of headquarters for our rotation. But we only went there twice; the rest of the time was spent with the people.

2. Meet our volunteer health workers (VHWs): Ate Linda (right) and Ate Lucie (left)! (Now that sounds like a Woody Allen film.) There's also Ate Kenneth and Elna and Joanna, but it was mainly these two extremely generous people who accompanied us for the length of our stay.

3. Captain Jigs is the current leader of the barangay, seen below with his bevy of councilors. The barangay hall is a place of overstated simplicity.

4. Saturday in 733 is aerobics day - unless the instructor doesn't come, which was what happened during that one morning when we all dragged our asses out of bed to get to the barangay before 7-freakin'-AM.

5. Boys walking in their underwear, but that's not such a strange sight in this country. (One of them wore boxer-briefs over briefs, which totally defeated the purpose of covering up, and which only magnified his, um, giftedness.) They have a "fraternity" called the Society of Blues, which we assumed is short for "boys who dig pot."

6. The main thrust of our group's immersion was to reinforce our VHWs' knowledge on taking vital signs and administering first aid. During our final presentation in class (no photo), we did a radio play, reenacting the iconic lines and unforgettable scenes during our stay.

7. The final presentations featured an overwhelming number of people in drag and hipster outfit. And Pinoy rap numbers. "'Nung ma-in-love ako sa'yo, akala ko'y pag-ibig mo ay tunay." 

8. Herbal Medicine session! I chopped all that oregano in the first photo!

9. It's impossible to ignore the disparity of wealth in this part of Manila. Just a couple of streets away is the bustling, ultra-chic La Salle neighborhood. And Zark's Burgers, which is the regular La Sallian's method of choice for getting heart disease.

10. The barangay assembly, which morphed into "The Last Stand of Ex-Capt. Rosales." It was the ultimate showdown, as the previous and current regimes struggled to one-up each other. The bigger tragedy, though, was that none of the issues really got resolved; people here have the tendency to avoid confrontation and just sweep their issues to the side.

Postscript: The Intarmeds of Block 8 with Dr. Gene Nisperos, who's part of the 5th (?) batch of the program. And congratulations to Vince (center, in gray shirt) for, you know, life!

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