For two days, an 8-year-old boy complained of fever, shortness of breath, fatigue and joint pain. When he showed no signs of improvement, his family traveled an extreme distance to have him seen at the nearest clinic in their region of rural Kenya. The clinical officer assigned to his case completed some initial assessments and found him to have an elevated heart rate, as well as a lower than normal hemoglobin level. Knowing that this young boy needed more advanced care, he reached out to The Addis Clinic through our asynchronous telemedicine platform for a connection to a pediatrician. The clinical officer also personally messaged us and asked for the case to be assigned quickly, as he knew this boy needed urgent intervention.
The Addis Clinic is lucky to have approximately one dozen pediatric-trained physician volunteers on our team, and we knew exactly who would be great for this case. This volunteer responded within just a few hours, and his initial belief was that the child was suffering from acute chest syndrome, a very serious pulmonary complication of sickle cell disease. Even in places with vast medical resources, this condition can be very difficult to treat. Knowing that, and understanding the restrictions posed by care in a small rural clinic, the physician volunteer provided basic recommendations as well as details on how to vary care based on the child’s progress during the course of his illness.
The patient was admitted to the clinic for close observation and provided with rehydration, adequate pain control, respiratory support, and antibiotics. Testing did show that the boy was positive for sickle cell disease, and throughout the week the clinical officer and pediatrician exchanged messages discussing the patient’s condition and care. Not only did these messages include information on how to manage the current situation, but also how to prevent or decrease the risk of future complications due to his chronic condition.
The immediate attention of his local clinician and the detailed guidance provided by our physician volunteer resulted in a complete recovery from this acute illness. This very sick child never required an expensive or logistically challenging transfer to another facility because the pediatrician assigned to his case was able to successfully guide the clinical officer through a difficult scenario. Empowering local clinicians to provide appropriate care is why The Addis Clinic exists - every day our consultations bring hope, healing, and equality to those who need it most.