Patrick Elliot, MD, MPH, of BWH’s Division of Global Health Equity, contributes this post about his work with Compañeros en Salud México.
A hot cup of coffee is an almost universal invitation to friendship and conversation, and it’s never truer than in the Sierra Madre de Chiapas. On Mexico’s southern border, Compañeros en Salud México (CES), a sister project of Partners In Health, has been working in several rural, coffee-growing communities to strengthen the healthcare system alongside the state government of Chiapas. In six rural pueblos in the mountains of Chiapas, the physicians of CES live and work alongside the people of the community. The lived reality of the community is shared by both patients and our doctors and opens new paths to discoveries, conversations and quite a few hot cups of coffee.
I began work with CES in February 2012, shortly after it officially began operations. At first, my work largely consisted of assisting in public sector community clinics that CES helps administer, seeing patients alongside the social service physicians who operate the clinics and are the heart of the organization. The social service physicians (pasantes) are recently-graduated medical students who must complete a year of required service before gaining eligibility for independent practice or entrance into residency. The pasantes and I would see patients together in the clinic, discuss cases and management options and in the evenings make house calls to patients who were too sick, infirm or who had simply failed to come to clinic during the day. As night fell across the town, we’d sometimes sit on the clinic roof and watch the stars. Continue reading “Hot Coffee”