The Aid Worker Cares…..

Navigating patients through the health care system whether in a developing, emerging, or industrialized nation is far from a pleasant blue water sail…

For each there is risk.

Today the health system(s) that exist are like shifting winds, changing tides— unpredictable.  Everyday can be gray. Different. Steering patients ahead as an aid worker is the similar to steering the helm of a sailboat safely to safety.  Each must take care.

In my world of aid and development I have navigated patients across many turbulent seas.  There have been times when I have maneuvered individuals from village hut to health center to provincial hospital to national centers of excellence (in places NOT measured by high tech devices or new drugs but only by the touch of a caring nurses hand or sound of her gentle voice).

And, in more recent times I have navigated patients from their home in their township ambulances to high tech emergency rooms filled with all the newest medical devices with nurses with no care and or little touch (in places monitored by international JCI standards of excellence with all the newest high tech devices and powerful drugs).

In both situations I have seen death on its doorstep. And, in both I have felt a calm come over me as I did what I do best … navigate through the turbulence at a time when my patient, my client, the person who’s family I am assisting needed my help most. At their most vulnerable time….

The reader may ask:

 Why is Terry writing about navigating patients when she is an AID WORKER not a Patient Navigator?

A fair question given the blog’s goal is to educate those that are interested in international development.

My response is simply this:

Aid workers are many things to many people.  And, to define an aid workers job is to also  (especially when the person working is in public health) to define  “care”.

When an aid, relief, or emergency worker takes a job abroad (especially!) in an emerging or developing nation, the job role more than always requires you to do the unexpected: To take care of an individual or group that is sick. And, many times doing just this will require many decisions to be made without teams of support, a doctor, or a boss. To me, an aid worker is always taking care.

An aid worker is always navigating unknown passages. An aid worker derives her pleasure from these unknown challenges. It is these gray passages that are not defined by westernized JCI rules and regulations.  But they are defined by the moment of need. Simply, the need for immediate medical attention. This drives the aid worker to provide her own continuum of care. Something she must decide on and create to make change.

My analogy is therefore that sailors are to navigators as aid workers are to caregivers.  Each maneuvering gray waters at unexpected times.  Each caring to be home safe and sound.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

four × one =