Visit the blog at www.faithinpractice.org - Trip #625
Village Johnson 2 Suchitepéquez - May 2019 - Guatemala
Travel Day May 11, 2019 |Posted on: 05/11/2019 | Author: Laura O'Bert
Today our team started bright and early meeting at IAH at about 7:15am. After a few introductions and several cups of coffee, we boarded our plane and took off on time at 9:45am to Guatemala City. After about a 2-1/2-hour flight we gathered our baggage and team members together and boarded our bus to the pretty colonial town of Antigua. We went directly to the Casa de Fe where we were introduced to the Faith In Practice Guatemala team members. We had our team informational meeting on what to expect during the next several days and we had a tour of their facility. Casa de Fe is a Faith In Practice sponsored guest house that serves as a haven for recovering surgical patients and their families who travel long distances for care. To find out more please look at https://www.faithinpractice.org/casa-de-fe.
Day 2 Clinic Set-Up 05/13/2019 After an early rise in Antigua, with team devotionals and breakfast, at 8am we took off on a 4-hour bus ride in the direction of our hotel, Los Hostales del IRTRA in San Martín Zapotitlan, Retalhuleu, about 180 km west of Guatemala City. But first we stopped off to visit and and set up Faith In Practife’s temporary clinic in the school named E.O.R.M. San Antonio, Nima 1, in Samayac, a municipality in the Suchitepéquez department of Guatemala. With the help of the local Faith In Practice staff and a unit of the Guatemalan Armed Forces (Ejército de Guatemala) we spent about two hours working hard to set up the various sub-clinics for the next day: OB/Gyn, Pediatrics, General Medicine, Dentistry, Cryogenics unit, Laboratory unit, Pharmacy, and the Wheelchair unit. Once we finished with the set-up we ate a quick sack lunch and then headed out to tour the Faith In Practice supported Hospital Hilario Galindo. After a long day of work and team bonding, we headed for our much needed rest at our hotel, about an hour drive from the village of Samayac. Now we’re all excited for the start of the clinics tomorrow and hopefully helping a lot of local villagers seeking medical attention.
Day 3 First Day of Clinics | Posted on: 05/14/2019 | Author: Laura O'Bert
Our day started at 5:45am with devotionals and then breakfast. We left IRTRA at 6:45am and arrived at 7:45am to see a long line of men, women, and children standing by the clinic doors waiting to see the Faith In Practice doctors. Our triage team worked diligently to interview the patients and send them to the appropriate specialists. Photos will show you the awesome work our volunteer medical staff accomplish and the lovely people they serve. Everyone worked their hearts out to help out all around. The number of patients seen today will not be known until tomorrow, so stay tuned! UPADATE: the number of patients seen today was 485.
Day 4 - Second Day of Clinics in Samayac Posted 05/14/2019 |Author: Laura O'Bert
Our first day of clinics was off to an incredible start ~ Faith In Practice volunteer doctors and specialists tended to 485 villagers. Today our specialist tended to 471 villagers. Again our Faith In Practice volunteers started early at our make-shift clinic at Nima 1. Children were treated by our wonderful pediatric specialists: Dr. Silvia Recinos and Susan Willliams PA, and her interpreter, Mary Stancel. Many women in need were treated by our talented team OB/Gyn doctors: Dr. Merrill Lewen, Dr. Mary Berg and nurse Marcela Lopez and medical student Natalia Polukoff. Many other villagers were seen by our amazing team of tireless general medicine doctors: Dr. Otoniel Recinos, Dr. Rolando Camey, Dr. Phil Johnson, Dr. Bob Morrow and interpreter Marcia Fashingbaeur. These doctors saw patients with many different ailments ranging from diabetes, arthritis, skin and eye problems, to pain in the abdominal area and more. Our remarkable dentists Dr. Hugo Lima and Dr. Kellie Moore showed incredible stamina throughout the day pulling decayed teeth from patients of all ages, ranging in age from 3 to 86 years old. There are wonderful personal stories we heard from these lovely local people too. Stay tuned for words on our third day of clinics. We have all enjoyed seeing the reaction of the patients after they have been attended to. All the villagers have been more than happy to share their stories and be photographed. The villagers we met were joyful, grateful, loving and caring Christians. Seeing these people made this faith based mission very rewarding for the volunteers. We were constantly thanked and blessed by the patients for giving of our time and talents.
One of the patients seen was a 40-year-old man. The men in the rural villages are typically in charge of working in the fields. One day 10 years ago when David was out in the fields he found the perfect tree to cut branches for firewood to be used by his wife to heat up their stove for cooking their family meal. That day was the last day David walked. He fell from the tree that day and became a paraplegic. The only way David has been able to get around for the past 10 years has been to be carried around in a plastic chair. However, today the wheelchair team and the physical therapists changed David’s life. Once David was fitted with his wheelchair his face beamed with happiness and gratitude. The wheelchairs are brought to the clinics in boxes where we have a fabulous team of Faith In Practice volunteers constructing these chairs to deliver to the physical therapists. In turn the PTs fit the individual patients according to their size and then they train the patients on the proper use. And finally, a Faith In Practice volunteer prays over the wheelchair patients before they leave the clinic and start their new life able to get around with much more ease. Kudos go to our fabulous wheelchair engineers: Beth Morrow, Larry Shamp, George Stancel, Byron, and Bruce Fuller. And more cheers to our PTs: Michelle Cramp, Lorena Ortiz, Kristel, and assistant Lulu.
Day 5 – Third day of Clinics – Pueblo Nuevo |Posted on: 05/15/2019
Today we started at 7am for our new location make-shift clinic in Escuela Of. Urbana Mixta No. 1, in the rural village of Pueblo Nuevo, Suchitepéquez. As the 2 buses of FIP volunteers approached the clinic we could sense the anticipation of the villagers lining the streets, in eager to be treated by our specialist. All the doctors worked diligently to treat the villagers. One of the most prevalent diagnosis we were finding today is diabetes. The pharmacy staff has been working consistently to fill the prescription orders.
We have been experiencing rain all day with occasional heavy downpours, but that has not stopped the people from coming to be seen by our awesome doctors. Neither rain, humidity, heat nor the multitude of flies or mosquitos have slowed down the doctors and other FIP volunteers from giving their highest level of attention to their patients. And we all continue to be blessed by the people we see. Today the doctors tended to 496 patients! The rain didn't stop the villagers from coming to see the docs!
Day 6 - Fourth day of Clinics - Pueblo Nuevo | Posted on: 05/16/2019
Similar to the other days on this medical mission trip, we started with devotionals led by our team pastor Rev. Tomas Spath and assisted by Rev. Cassandra Dahnke. Cassandra, by the way, has been an exceptionally talented and helpful pharmacy technician for our pharmacist Luisa Portugal. Also assisting our Pharmacist this week has been the tireless and clever Craig Walker. He always had a pleasant smile no matter the amount of work he had! This, our last day of clinics started like yesterday, with a 40-minutes bus ride to our make shift clinic in Pueblo Nuevo. The cases came pouring in and we were fortunate the rain stayed away while we were seeing patients. The same can’t be said about the flies and the heat! Tomorrow’s blog will list the FIP volunteers … so read on! Today the doctors tended to 519 patients ~ that's a record!
Day 7 - It's a Wrap! | Posted on: 05/17/2019
We finished clinics yesterday. The total of patients seen this week was 1,971! That's an incredible feat to applaud! Congratulations to all the volunteers!
Today it was a 4-hour bus ride back to Antigua. Now is a good time to tell you about the team. However, there’s a disclaimer on my part. The Wi-Fi data coverage during the week in the remote villages has not been a friend to me ~ so apologies for delayed postings of blogs and photos. I’ll be adding more photos from this trip. Please be aware the work setting our doctors experienced was difficult and not sterile. They worked in a hot and humid rudimentary environment as endless flies surrounded them and their patients. I was blessed to meet and spend time with all our team members and help out with translations when needed. The first day I spent several hours helping triage the patients determining, based on their medical complaints, which doctors would need to attend to them. Another day, I spent the morning translating for one of our General Medicine doctors and I witnessed first-hand the kindness and care and patience he demonstrated to each of the patients seen. In going from unit to unit, I observed the loving care and fortitude the physical therapists showed their patients as they were fitted into their ambulatory devices. The diligent doctor Dilma Ruiz would first evaluate the ambulatory patients and then the patients would go to the physical therapists. The therapists spent an extraordinary amount of time making sure their patients understood how to use their devices properly, whether they were wheelchairs, walkers, canes or crutches. The therapists are: Michelle Cramp, Lorena Ortiz, and Kristel Najera, aided by their most uplifting administrator Lulu. The wheelchair engineers responsible for the assembly are: Beth Morrow, Larry Shamp, Bruce Fuller, George Stancel and Guatemalan FIP staff Byron.
The Laboratory technician, Katherine Allison, worked tirelessly to get the lab results to the doctors. She was responsible for testing: hemoglobin, urine analysis, pregnancy, blood sugar and EKG. I must add, Katherine always had a smile on her face!
Houston doctors Bob Morrow and Phil Johnson teamed up with Guatemalan doctors Otoniel Recinos and Rolando Camey to smoothly run the General Medicine unit. Marcia Fashingbauer served diligently as Dr. Morrow’s translator.
In pediatrics, Physician’s Assistant, Susan Williams was a true blessing to the team as she, with her translator Mary Stancel by her side, evaluated an endless number of children and then she went on to assist the other doctors by tending to adult patients. Also in pediatrics was Dr. Silvia Recinos who treated the children with an incredible amount of compassion and tenderness.
All units were busy, however, in particular the obstetrics and gynecological doctors were swamped. The extremely assiduous Dr. Merrill Lewen was assisted by medical student Natalia Polukoff who also served as her translator. The very attentive Dr. Mary Berg with her translator and aide Marcela Lopez, RN also worked the OB/GYN unit. The gynecology cryotherapy unit included a team from Guatemala: Flory Esquivel, Lesli Rivas and Ana Garcia.
Our doctors had to refer many patients for further evaluation for possible surgery. The referral unit was optimally organized by local FIP staff members, Jessica Stevens and Danilo.
On day 3 and 4 of clinics, dentists Dr. Kellie Moore and local Dr. Hugo Lima were assisted by local Dr. Marcia Guevera. This team of doctors worked continuously to pull decayed teeth from the mouths of adults and children. The talented Dr. Moore taught the other two doctors nerve blocking techniques.
This medical mission team would not have been possible without the outstanding leadership of Linda Johnson, supported by the Guatemalan based FIP staff, medical program coordinator Felipe Gutierrez and assistant coordinator Tagni Li Moncada.
FIP volunteers were well fed by the kitchen local team: Hector Ortiz and Oliver Santos. Thanks go to our bus drivers for getting us to our locations unscathed: Aparicio Lopez and Cesar Salazar. Also thank you to the local volunteer teens who served as "red hats" assisting the doctors and Triage throughout each day.