PC Medical and PCMOs

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Special Reports: October 26, 2003: Dayton Daily News reports on Peace Corps Safety and Security: What RPCVs Say about this series: PC Medical and PCMOs

By Lori (pm1p8.cwdom.dm - on Wednesday, October 13, 2004 - 7:47 pm: Edit Post

I have read some of the postings and they cover mainly being physically safe, but what about medical coverage? Here is a situation I recently encountered while serving:

I woke up one day and it was hard to breathe and it felt like there was a "foot" on my chest. I went to see my PCMO and we decided that it was due to the strange weather in the area...we are in a tropical area and the air was heavier that week since storms were passing.

Over the next week or so I got worse. I went back to her and asked to go to the local doc. I did and she said I had a lung infection and gave me a bunch of antibiotics to treat it. In the mean time the PCMO left the island to go attend other PC activities on other islands/countries (she covers 2 different countries/islands in the area).

I got worse. I tracked her down via cell and told her of the situation. She said to go back to the doc and then to let her know what the doc said. Turns out I had a bacterial lung infection and the antibiotics that were treating it were not the correct ones.

In my country we have no working x-ray machine, no lung doc and in fact the local doc that we see is pretty much the only general doc in the country. To get a x-ray or see a specialist we have to medevac'ed off island to another country, which takes permission from PC Washington.

In tears I told the PCMO that I was frustrated because I still could not breathe or sleep and my chest was killing me...since this has now gone on for over a month I have managed to pull a bunch of muscles in my chest. Last I talked to her she was going to call and check in on me later that day. It's been almost a week and no call! Yes, I could have called her, but come on...I told her how sick I was and had called her everyday that week before...

I'm lucky that I have started to get better. After a month I'm still only at 80%, but that is better than where I was before...however, PC doesn't know that. Last they knew I couldn't breathe and my chest hurt!

Does this happen in other countries? Shouldn't this be looked into as well as physical safety? Man, it's not like I had a hang nail...I could not breathe and did not sleep for almost 2 weeks and the PCMO did not care at all! This is typical for this area and it happens all the time. I have never known the PCMO to return a single phone call or e-mail.

Just wondering if others around the world go through this or are going through this type of treatment? Should we expect this when we sign up to serve? I knew when I joined it would not be US medical care, but this is far below the level I expected. How can we do our job and function if we are not well?

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