Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November Volunteering

November was a really interesting month! I had my first ever medical school interview, and we covered some of my favorite material in pharmacology, which is treatment of respiratory pathologies. The weather took a sudden change for cold and rainy this month, which brought with it a huge spike in the asthma exacerbations and pneumonia I see at work, and while I've previously been acquainted with some of the first line asthma medications such as albuterol and atrovent, it's been really fascinating to connect conceptual class material to patient presentations.

Aside from class and work, I've continued to participate in the Street Medicine project with Dr. Zhang, an emergency medicine resident at UMC, and we went out twice this month, four hours each night. The outings consisted of walks around the downtown/French Quarter/ferry terminal area, where many homeless/houseless people stay,  reconnecting with patients recently seen at local hospitals, following up on their discharge instructions and access to medications, continuing care, and offering assessments of chronic or new complaints. One of the patients we met had a low grade fever, a productive cough, and exertional shortness of breath for three weeks, and from class lectures I immediately connected his complaints to discussions of atypical pneumonia! He didn't want to go to the hospital though, so we referred him to Healthcare for the Homeless at the VA clinic.

The second night drew a large group of volunteers, including two Tulane second year medical students, Dr. Nixdorf,  one of the doctors from Healthcare for the Homeless, and a social worker from Unity House. We were able to meet up with many of the folks who stay under I-10 by Calliope and discuss options for getting housed, in addition to checking blood pressures and glucometry.

Besides Street Medicine, I've continued to volunteer with the public health organization Trystereo, distributing clean syringes to local injection drug users and discussing strategies to reduce infections. I recalled Dr. Dery's lecture on endocarditis as I spoke to one program participant about her recent hospitalization for bacteremia. November has also seen a large increase in overdoses among illicit narcotic users, and so I've been volunteering in a campaign to more widely distribute information on overdose prevention and treatment.

Lastly, my project to get an EMT educational scholarship for Sci High students is under way! I met with the careers counselor at Sci High again this month, and submitted a grant proposal to the city vocational education funding source, Job1, and I'm hoping to hear back from them so we can try to get this project under way!

November volunteer hours: 12
Total volunteer hours: 56

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

October volunteering

October was an easier month, with material that I felt more comfortable with than in previous blocks. I was cleared to return to duty as a paramedic with the city of new orleans after a major motor vehicle collision in February, so I'm still figuring out how to balance my commitments to the city with academics and volunteering. I've definitely noticed that I have a greater awareness of medications and their clinical interactions when assessing patients in the past two weeks. I had a patient with CHF and A-Fib complaining of strange dreams last week and surely enough when I asked him about his medications he said he takes digoxin!

I worked on Halloween, which was an extremely busy day, and made my 26th birthday on October 29th.

I made it out to two nights of Street Medicine New Orleans (10/12 and 10/26) with Dr. Zhang and a group of residents, medical students, social workers and housing workers, where we made rounds of the CBD, French Quarter and nearby areas to try to encounter houseless people and offer them resources and medical care. We had meaningful conversations with about 12 people each night, on topics regarding accessing further care via referrals to Healthcare for the Homeless, getting sheltered or housed through Unity, and obtaining medications through the UMC pharmacy. I mostly checked blood pressures and blood sugars, and was able to connect a few people to needle exchange resources via New Orleans Harm Reduction Network.

Lastly, things are coming along with this scholarship program I'm working on setting up to enroll Sci High seniors in an EMT class at Tulane. We're applying for a grant from Job1, a municipal vocational education fund, the department heads at NOEMS approve of the project, and I've met with staff at Sci High on separate occasions, and they are very excited! More updates to follow, and I'm hoping to have a viable program with 6 Sci High seniors enrolled in this class by January 30th.

Total hours: 4 per night at SMNO, 2 hours with sci high EMT education organizing- 10 volunteer hours in October.