Start of Clinic in Alzatate, Day 1, March 11, 2019
To start this new day, a few inspirational words from Dr. Seuss (Theodore Seuss Geisel): "To the world you may be one person: but to one person, you may be the world."
For those who have not followed this team in previous years, a small explanation about the beginning of each clinic day. Terry Estes, our team administrator, has developed the "Best Dressed Scrubs Contest" to start each day on a happy note (theme changes daily). Todays' theme is "Kentucky Derby" and I am envisioning "hats and horses" and I was not disappointed. Volunteers do not check bags so these splendid accessories have to fit into a carry-on suitcase along with 7 days of clothing. It is a great team building activity and creates a good start to our clinic day which can sometimes bring sobering and sad events.
I'd like to take a little time to explain how the clinic operates. A long line of patients and family members will have formed to meet our bus. Several village volunteers will do crowd control, limiting the numbers allowed inside at a given time. The elderly, very sick and limited mobility will enter the clinic fist. The first station will be registration. Local volunteers will fill this job and must be able to read and write English. This function is often carried out by high school students. The local village volunteers will be wearing red Faith In Practice baseball caps. Over the years, this tradition has earned the volunteers the nickname "redcaps" and is a sign of pride and honor for service to their village. You will see these volunteers throughout all the clinics carrying out functions which frees the Faith In Practice volunteers to accomplish their jobs more efficiently. The second station with be dispensing albendazole (an anti-parasitic drug) to every patient who enters the clinic with the exception of infants and the elderly. Triage is station 3 and manned by Faith In Practice team members who have a combination of language and medical skills. The patient is then referred and directed to the appropriate clinic.
I have been asked previously "what is Cryo Clinic". We are lucky to have the Thompsons, Peter and Nancy, on our team this week so I was able to ask them this same question. Peter is responsible for bringing the Cryo Clinic to Faith In Practice about 15 years ago. Cervical cancer is the number one killer of young mothers in developing countries. Faith In Practice started a program in 2005, VIA, visual inspection with acetic acid (vinegar) also known as "see and treat". If a pre-cancerous lesion is visualized on the cervix, the patient can be treated the same day by freezing the lesion, this is known as cryo therapy and the patient does not have to have another doctor's visit. Faith In Practice has conducted numerous courses in Guatemala to train local doctors and nurses to carry out this procedure. Several nurses who have received this training accompany each Faith In Practice village team. Thousands of women have been evaluated and treated if needed without paying, saving many young women's lives.
I stopped by the dental clinic and they had four chairs occupied by children, the two youngest looked to be about five or six. Due to lack of preventative care, our dentist often have to pull teeth on very young children due to infection, pain and inability to eat and maintain proper nutrition.
The Mobility clinic was busy with activity in every corner, diagnosing needs, fitting the wheelchair, transferring the patient and teaching proper use. Early afternoon I visited a square across the street and there were three wheelchair patients ready to head home with three shiny new blue wheel chairs (photo)
After every patient was seen, volunteers gathered their belongings and once again, it was "on the bus". I will give some statistics at the end of clinic day tomorrow for this village clinic. Volunteers went back tired but happy upon completion of Day 1 in Monjas.
Once again, thanks for being with us on this adventure and as Dr. Seuss would say,
Today was good, Today was fun, Tomorrow is another one."
Goodnight from Guatemala