Day 5 - Day 4 in the clinics, Day 2 in Caballo Blanco

Posted on: 01/18/2019

Author: Stacy Alexander

Totals from previous day:
General Med - 194
Pediatrics - 61
Gynecology - 59
Dermatology - 45
Dental 55/extractions - 30
Cervical screening - 38
Wheelchairs - 25/Walkers -2/Canes - 2
Referrals - 87
Total # patients - 568
Pregnancy tests - 3
Urinalyses - 45
Hemoglobin - 32
Sugar/Glucose - 40
Ultrasounds - 15
Plus 6-8 Ear washings -times two!
And Prescriptions filled: approximately 568 (but it felt like more)
The scripture and song today reminded us how weariness is simply a state of mind that can be overcome when you are in the presence of God. And he is definitely here with us as we continue the mission.

And the costume contest is such a fun start to the day. Gilligan’s island characters handily won first place - Dr. Robert Wright - Thurston Howell III, Dr. Michael Spohn - Mrs. Thurston Howell III ("Lovey") (- yes you read that right!), Dr. Aracely Vasquez - Ginger, Dr. Marilynn Tedja - Mary Anne. Next was Mary Poppins (Dr. Debra Caspers), and her cohort Bert, Dick van Dyke’s character, Char Schumann, RN.
The Bachelorettes (Dr. Phil Johnson, George Gionnoni, PT, Doug Alexander, Pastor Andy Gans, Dr. Chris Johnson) paired well with Brides (Twyla Brack, Dr. Robin Hardwicke, Josie Johnson).

Many of the patients here cannot be treated today. They will require further treatment like surgery. The referrals team is essential. Guatemalan Faith In Practice staff member, Danilo Reanda, does intake, gathering all of the information from the patient, assessing the next steps and explaining them to the patient. Guatemalan Faith In Practice staff member, Jessica Stevens, inputs all this into the computer. The cases range from inguinal hernia‘s to cataracts and hip and knee replacements. Sometimes they encounter cases they refer to Guatemala City, the capital. For example, Julissa Pellecer, Faith In Practice Referrals Director, told of a 38 year-old woman diagnosed with breast cancer. There is only one hospital in Guatemala that treats cancer and it’s in Guatemala City. She is going to be getting a biopsy on Monday, thankfully, and will be getting the treatment she needs.

Joe Lopez and Tom O’Brien, in PT/Wheelchairs, found little Gerardi, who was in third grade, hanging around them yesterday. He had come with his mother and three of his five sisters. He quickly turned into a little helper, assembling wheelchairs. He was taught to screw nuts onto the end of bolts and put the cushions into the seats. He liked it so much that he asked his dad if he could come back again today to do more wheelchair assembling. And at the end of the day he introduced Tom to his dad as his “amigo.”

Linda Johnson was in triage, and one gentleman actually apologized to her for being so poor.  He thought he was a burden. He was sorry for having to get his medical care this way. When she told us, it brought tears to our eyes.

One young woman came into the PT clinic with polio. Her name is Ileana. Dr. Donna Moore and other team members tell the story: 
"It takes a village (team!) This 26-year-old angel who had polio at age two which stunted the growth of her spine, arms and legs was referred to the wheelchair clinic. Her face and smile were beautiful but her small contorted spine and limbs didn’t move purposefully. Her weak respiratory muscles predisposed her to pneumonia and respiratory failure. Today, Iliana came with her sisters and mother, to the clinic in the hopes of obtaining a mobility device to help her sit more comfortably and move about. In addition to a wheelchair evaluation and specialized wheelchair order by Josh Greenman, Faith In Practice Mobility Clinic Coordinator, she received excellent care from a team of compassionate health care professionals. When I assessed her, I became aware of her marked medical fragility, as she wheezed and breathed rapidly. I called in the medical “troops” to assist. Janet Sargent, RN, previously acting as my interpreter, nimbly switched roles, helping with urgent medical care as Dr. Debora Caspers diagnosed pneumonia and ordered intramuscular antibiotics. Pharmacist in charge, Sylvia Peterson, responded quickly and supplied medications to give Iliana the best chance to survive. Other wheelchair team members worked with the nearby GYN clinic to obtain a syringe and needle for the antibiotic injection. Dr. Caspers, recognizing the potentially life ending situation, spoke gently to the family about choices for Iliana’s care, including possible hospitalization or care at home. There is a great possibility Iliana will not survive this illness. Pastor Andy prayed with the family. Josie Johnson, photographer, captured Iliana’s beautiful smile for the family, including a Polaroid they took home. Our Faith In Practice team was flexible and responsive to this complex medical and psychosocial situation. Iliana’s care in a makeshift clinic in a remote part of the impoverished world, was some of the best medical care I have witnessed anywhere. Nice job, Johnson Village!”

The dental team was life-changing too. Dentist Roger Kaestner, along with Guatemalan dental extractionist, Carlos Tiul and dentist Hugu Lima, saw growing numbers of patients every day. Periodically, each day in the clinics, we would hear loud crying and know it was an extraction.  The patient would have novacain, so it was mostly fear that made them cry out.  But even that was fleeting.  And the chronic pain from the toothache would be relieved forever.  That is a true blessing.  One little nine year-old girl came in with several rotten upper teeth.  They all had to be pulled.  It took quite awhile to assuage her fears about this.  Finally, they were able to pull them all out.  Her adult teeth will grow in and she will soon have a beautiful smile again.

At the end of the day, everyone packed up, we took a group picture with the Guatemalan volunteers, as we did in San Francisco, and headed to the hotel. It is an Faith In Practice tradition to have a Fiesta dinner on the last night. Everyone receives a certificate of service and a few personal words by someone in the group, acknowledging their contribution. As a finalé, the pharmacy team, known as “The Pharmettes”, puts on a little song and dance. This year, Cindy Pekow brilliantly adapted lyrics to “Mr. Sandman” by the Chordettes. Some of us fumbled, but all in all, it was a hit.

It was a week of miracles and many expressed awe at witnessing the wonder of God’s work. After all, it is not often you get to touch the lives of so many in need in such a meaningful way.

Stacy Alexander