Anne D’Intino (Cameroon 1979)

 

A row of surgical gloves hung on the laundry line to “air out” in the hot sun. Washing and hanging up surgical gloves were simply a routine chore for staff at the health clinic in Yaoundé, but it was astonishing sight for Crossroader Anne D’Intino, a first year medical student from Nova Scotia She was stunned by the realization that surgery gloves had to be washed and reused for the next patient.

“There were no resources to do anything differently,” recalls Dr. D’Intino of the busy clinic with little resources to tackle the serious health care challenges in the neighbourhood. She considered herself an “extra pair of hands”, during her 1979 Crossroads placement at the clinic, conducting early testing for patients and assisting in surgery. “I didn’t have any preconceived notions that I was going there to help them...It was more of an educational experience for myself,” says Dr. D’Intino, now a palliative care doctor.

She often remembers the deep family bonds and the respect and care for the elderly that she saw during her Crossroads placement. These experiences have had a lasting influence on her medical career. “I think it has had in large part impacted how I view medical end of life care,” says Dr. D’Intino. “When I was there people died of things they would never die from over here. People were cared for in the hospitals by their relatives who would sleep under beds. Here, we’ve got wonderful resources and high tech treatments but patients die alone in hospitals because families aren’t there for them.”

When it came time to participate in World Hospice Day earlier this year, she remembered the busy clinic in Yaoundé from her Crossroads placement. At her suggestion, a portion of the funds raised by the local palliative care society at her Nova Scotia hospital will support end-of life care in Cameroon.

“My contribution may be small in the scheme of things but collectively, we can make a world of difference,” says Dr. D’Intino. “Sometimes the threads we weave in our youth form the fabric of our lives.”

 

Crossroads International gratefully acknowledges the support of: