Long Winding Road by João Almeida.
In an under serviced rural setting, the issue of access is two-fold: there is a severe shortage of doctors available and also a longer travel distance for patients. The population in smaller communities has a tendency to be thinly distributed to small outlying areas, making health access difficult.
Today, at the recommendation of my preceptor, I took a drive out to one of these areas, as he sometimes does. As is common for some doctors in this community, there are courtesy house calls for some patients who are unable to make it to town.
The drive took me deep into the heart of the land. Descending into a valley of thick foliage flanked by overpowering mountain ranges, I snaked my way along the valley edge through the low misty clouds down into the forest.
From paved asphalt to dirt roads, civilization faded further and further away into my rear view mirror. Beside myself, the road was empty. What was left was the land, the water, and the clouds.
I was awed and seduced by the beauty of my surroundings, seemingly untouched by the hand of man. Man, it would appear, was nearly two hours away by vehicle. Yet this same attractive quality was the root problem of those who lived at the end of the graveled path. Some people preferred these remote areas; others had lived there for generations. Regardless, the tradeoff was heavy.
The drive left me humbled both of the untouched beauty of the province and of the challenges these remote areas face in health care and beyond. It gave me a lot to think about. I looked across the still lake nearby one last time before drawing a breath.
“Time to go.”