At T minus 2 days and counting, this will be the first installment of The Phil Simon Clinic Tanzania Journal. So many months (years) of preparation have taken us here. We already have a great email and postal correspondence with Dr. Solomon Ole Logilinore and his Upone Charitable Medical Centre in Arusha. Have sent ( truncated grammar courtesy of Ernest Hemingway…seemed sort of appropriate for an African journal) several boxes loaded with medicines and medical supplies already. Now we’re ready to bring the human part of the project. So many questions—what will it be like? Will we have access to many HIV infected persons? How will they receive us? Can we provide the medications and set up a viable clinic? Will it be overwhelming? Sometimes seems like so many obstacles and that isn’t counting 27 hour plane flights, baggage issues, customs, mosquitoes, Tanzanian potholes and irate elephants. Have had a few challenges to deal with on this side of the Atlantic. Last minute changes due to personal situations for two of our nurses, Tom Warren and Diane Datko. They will be missed enormously but will hold down command central. Allison Morris, a superb ICU nurse and now Huntington Hospital risk management administrator bravely stepped into place…”Hey Allison, do you want to go to Tanzania…..next week?!!” No hesitation. Her skills, sense of adventure (and humor) and passion for helping people fit right in with the rest of the team. So the bags are loaded with antimicrobials, medical supplies, a microscope donated by The Huntington Pathology department, a pulse oximeter donated by Nellcor, a model of the HIV virus, teaching supplies and even art supplies. Pleases all of us to be bringing science and art to Arusha. The watercolor group at AIDS Service Center have sent along paint sets for African clients. Art-the universal language. Perhaps appropriate that antiretroviral therapy is ART. Also from Jody Casserly’s mental health department at AIDS Service Center is the Spanish speaking women’s project-collections of personal photos from their lives with HIV that they would like to share with African clients. Will hopefully bring back the African Ladies group photos to share with their Hispanic counterparts. It’s Spanish to English to Swahili and back again, but that’s the beauty of a global clinic! (Gracias to the ladies, Asante sana, Thank you.)
With the bags packed, time to recognize our talented team.
Lyn Smillie, The Phil Simon Clinic administrator….organizer extraordinaire, can multitask like no one’s business and knows exactly what I need even before I do…couldn’t do any of this without her.
Ann Kleeger,-a veteran social worker from the first trip, has already established support groups in Arusha and dedicated to the spread of accurate information about HIV-easy going, adaptable and except for an unusually dramatic reaction to the presence of spiders, a dream of a travel companion.
Rhonda Richins-also a veteran from the first trip; compassionate, smart, funny, a wonderful artist and nurse adored by all patients, but especially the Maasai. Rhonda keeps everyone afloat and makes calm out of chaos.
Ryan Richins-Rhonda’s wonderful husband-a true sport to be traveling thousands of miles with so many women; our resident photographer, carpenter, technical support and fix it guy. Hope he knows something about irate Rhinoceri!
Jody Casserly-Project director of Mental Health at AIDS Service Center, a compassionate and dedicated social worker devoted to the underserved. She and her staff have been a part of The Phil Simon Clinic for years. Her inspiration and hard work have brought forth the Spanish Speaking Womens Group International Project and the Tanzania watercolor class project. As skilled with a camera as she is with the DSM IV; an invaluable asset to the team.
Allison Morris-winner of the “can travel at the drop of a hat” award. A fabulous ICU nurse and dedicated server of the underserved, Allison has already given her expertise to a clinic in Haiti. Thanks to Sandra Davis and the administration of Huntington Hospital for letting her go on such short notice. Delighted to have her on board.
Jenny Murase-our first resident doctor to lend a hand, a superb intern whose hard work obtaining meds, grants and other projects puts all of us to shame. A rare resident indeed who has to be told to go home! Thanks to her understanding husband and family for loaning such a bright and energetic physician.
There are so many others…Tom Warren and Diane Datkoand Agnes Oh, of course minding the store at home. My patient and generous associate, Dr. David Man who will supervise The Phil Simon Clinic for the next two weeks. Bryan Younger our superb computer specialist who has delivered this website and given so much advice. Jim Avedekian, a friend and sponsor of the project. Thanks to Jennifer, Mary, the HMH housestaff and faculty, Vince and the ASC art group, the clients at Phil Simon, my parents and so many others. This is genuinely a group effort. It’s time to take the leap…hopefully the net will appear!