6:20am: The team woke up this morning to the most incredible view of El Volcán de Fuego. Good morning, Team Stempel! The light behind the volcano made our first morning here in Antigua special and was the perfect backdrop for our first morning devotion with Father Bill. We gathered after breakfast to go over the day and pray together as a team. This morning, Father Bill anointed our hands to help in our mission for healing, and we each received a cross to wear, to keep or to share with a special patient.
Last night, before starting this process, we had our first Team Stempel meeting at La Quinta. We had traveled as a group and gathered as a group, but we had not yet had an opportunity to get to know each other as a group. Each team came up and introduced themselves – who they were, what they do and what their goal was. 39 different people of different ages and different lifetimes worth of experience. Our individual goals for the trip may have sounded just as different as well, but at the core, the mission was the same. We are here for our team, and our goal is to combine our complementary experiences and skills to provide the necessary care for these Guatemalans.
8:36am: We are getting set up for triage day at the hospital, Las Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro. As we walked into the hospital’s courtyard, we found our patients for the week patiently waiting. Jaime and Father Bill greeted the group and welcomed us to share in a prayer all together. Father Bill invited the Guatemalans to place their hands upon our shoulders as we prayed for coming week’s events. A kind Guatemalan woman stood next to me and rested her hand upon my shoulder while her son stood close to us quietly. As Father Bill prayed in Spanish over the PA system, she squeezed my shoulder tighter, grabbed my other hand, whispered her own prayer aloud. A prayer shared only with me and her young son. As I looked around the courtyard, the crowd had mixed together almost entirely. Our team and the Guatemalans held each other’s hands and shoulders as they prayed, even before having the opportunity to share hellos and names. At the end of the prayer, we hugged and thanked one another for being present today. This experience immediately broke down any barriers between caregiver and patient. It was an emotional moment for our team, and for many, the most impactful of the trip so far. It set the tone for us all.
The process for triage has many steps, and our leaders have designed the process to be as efficient as possible. As patients are called, they are first led to a meeting with a team of nurses. Then, they are seen by a doctor and an anesthesiologist for their pre-operation diagnosis who determine what procedures are needed and when to schedule their operations. Finally, they check bring their paperwork to be inputted and head home until their surgery day.
This is each patient's first opportunity to meet the entire team. They get to meet all of the people who will be involved in their surgical experience - their nurses, doctors, anesthesiologists - and it's an important day for them. Many have been suffering and waiting years for this day to come, and their anticipation is met with compassion and commitment from our Faith In Practice team.
5:54pm: Back at La Quinta, and our hearts are full after our day at the hospital. Dr. Cramer said that in his 12 years on this trip, he thought today was the best triage day yet, and the OR team rocked it today in setting up our team for success for all the surgeries to come.
My role for triage day was inputting the patient information into the computer with their visit notes. This gave me the chance to interact with every patient and their family individually, to greet them and help with taking their photos. One thing that sets our team apart from other Faith In Practice teams is that at the end of this process, we take photos of each patient to add to their files. This adds another level of identification to their paperwork and ensures that those with similar names do not get mixed up. This act though can be a special moment for some of patients. For some, they have never had their photo taken or have never seen a photo that was taken of them before.
Despite all the reasons these patients have come in to see us today, their spirits felt high. To see people who are personally and culturally so faith-filled is inspiring. I’d ask how they were doing, after going through three different appointments in such a short period, and they’d smile back at me. They’d admit to being a little bit nervous, sure, but their faith came first. Through that, they were entirely confident in us and the work of our team.
And now after our team meeting for the night, I too feel so much confidence in this team. These doctors and nurses on our team are insanely professional, and I can tell simply in the way they spoke to one another at our team meeting tonight how good they are at the things they are specialized in. I had never once doubted this, but to see it in action is something special. They are incredibly organized, they are so knowledgeable and they will ensure their patients get the best and most appropriate care for all of their needs this week.