In December The Addis Clinic added 3 new partner organizations and a number of new referrers. One of the first cases sent by a new frontline health worker came from Cameroon, where a 35-year-old male presented with complaints of chest pain for one year and headache. While at first glance these complaints seemed very broad, The Addis Clinic staff replied to the referrer with additional questions and worked with her to paint a more detailed picture of the patient’s medical history and his current status. Once we had all the information we needed, the case was then referred to an internal medicine physician volunteer and he and the referring health worker continued the conversation about the patient, his current symptoms, and history.
This dialogue revealed that for the last year the patient experienced a burning chest pain located below his sternum, and it was related to the timing of his meals. He denied any personal or family history of heart disease or cardiac problems and revealed that he had previously been diagnosed with H. Pylori, a type of bacteria that infects the digestive tract and over time can cause ulcers in the stomach or upper part of the small intestine. Our physician volunteer carefully guided the health worker through the course of treatment for this type of infection to include antibiotic treatment and a proton pump inhibitor, as well as explained guidelines on re-testing after completion of treatment. He also concluded that the patient’s headache was most likely caused by tension and could be treated with a medication such as Tylenol, as needed.
While this patient’s complaint and diagnosis is not uncommon, the detailed conversation between the referrer, the staff at The Addis Clinic, and our volunteer physician occurred over about a dozen messages sent through our online platform. They were all aimed at training this new referrer on best practices for asynchronous telemedicine AND getting her patient the best care possible. This perfectly illustrates our mission in action - to support frontline health workers as they provide patients in their communities with quality and culturally appropriate care. In the days following this case, this health worker has sent 13 other cases on which we have facilitated successful consultations, and we look forward to even more opportunities to assist her and her patients!