Spring 2008 Medical Mission
It was a great mission. The
team really bonded, and we had our usual little rounds
of excitement. This time, the bus caught fire on the
The dental sealants were a hit.
Erina ordered enough sealants for 250 children, and we
could have done more. One of our volunteers, Gavin
Kelly a pre-dental student, was trained by one of our
dentists, Jennifer Kelly (yep, his mother) to do the
applications, and it worked well. We now have 250
children who will not be losing their permanent molars
to decay in the next 5 years! As a pediatrician,
you have no idea how happy this makes me! We
continued to do fluoride varnish to the teeth of the
younger children. This combination can really make
The lab in a suitcase worked very
well too. Bill Loeb, who is a lab tech, did a
great job. The equipment was interesting: the
centrifuge was hand cranked with a gear mechanism.
He had ordered the reagents from another supplier and
was able to do CBC's, electrolytes, BUN, U/A's, glucose
and pregnancy tests. He found that
some reagents do not work well at 94 degrees, and had to
rig up a fan over ice to cool his little "lab". I
think that we will be expanding some of the testing in
the future. Hgb A1C and TSH have been requested,
and we will need to see how difficult this will be in
the clinic environment.
Other highlights: We worked with Rotary on their Pure
Water for the World project. For starters, they
set up 2 water filters in the clinic, and we used the
water there and the patients got to see how it worked.
We will be expanding this next spring to bring water
filters to some of the villages. We are hoping to
do a small study to prove that it reduces diarrhea, and
thereby reduces malnutrition.
We worked for the first time with "health promoters" who
are assigned to the villages to be sure that children
receive immunizations, pregnant women get folic acid,
children with diarrhea get seen by public health, etc.
We hope that they will be available to teach about the
water filters when they are installed. They were
very enthusiastic about learning and asked that the
filters be installed in the village schools. I
discussed malnutrition with them, and gave them each the
mid arm circumference tape that was designed by the WHO
to easily determine which children are at risk for
malnutrition and which are actually malnourished.
A PA who volunteered with us taught trauma assessment to
the "Bomberos" (fire rescue personnel), and we taught
the midwives about malnutrition and diarrhea as well.
I saw a great many seriously malnourished children this
time. What they say about the world food shortage
is very real, I am afraid.
On the last day, I visited some clinics in Cuilapa.
One was the public health clinic for the city. The
power went out (as usual). I was shown the
delivery room (about the size of a bathroom), which had
no windows. A woman was in stirrups, pushing.
It was pitch black in there except for a nurse holding a
taper candle...delivery by candle light, so romantic!
SPRING 2007 MEDICAL
With a larger-than-life team of 46 volunteers, the
2007 spring medical mission was off and running upon the
arrival of the team members at the
airport on April 20th, 2007.
The five-member pre-mission team had arrived on April
16th to begin the fundamental task of
distributing medical forms to the people in the remote
mountain villages surrounding Nueva Santa Rosa, the
small town where the team would open their free medical
clinic only days later. The pre-mission team traveled in
the bed of a pickup truck to reach distant villages,
enduring crude roads consisting of little more than a
worn path over boulders and ruts in some cases.
Upon reaching a village, the pre-mission team ‘sat up
shop’ wherever a central gathering place could be made
accessible to the local people. They began the critical
process of assessing multitudes of people in order to
determine the most medically desperate. Those patients
received medical forms which would become their
‘tickets’ to visit the clinic once opened. The
pre-mission team finalized the patient selection process
the same day the remainder of the team arrived.
A significant change was awaiting this mix of novices
and veterans. A complete reversal of the patient routing
within the clinic compound was implemented during this
mission. At first glance, it appeared the new system was
being met with a measure of discontent and uncertainty.
A couple days into the routine, a few minor adjustments
resulted in agreement that the experiment had definite
vantages. By the end of the week, it was receiving a
unanimous ‘thumbs up’ from team members. The new system
proved successful insofar as enabling the team members
to provide more medical services to more patients than
in the past, and in a more effective manner.
A couple needed improvements during this mission
included the replacement of the older, heavy, bulky exam
tables. Due to successful fundraising and generous
donations from local supporters, it was possible to
purchase portable, foldable exam tables. Plastic storage
totes (color-coded for error-free clinic sorting) were
provided to stow the team’s supplies between missions,
making it possible to ensure a dry, clean storage
Guatemalan firemen and midwives were given
opportunities to attend classes.
Proper tooth brushing was
demonstrated to children while receiving fluoride
treatments. Neonatal resuscitation certification, using
international standards, was offered to the public
health doctors and nurses.
The team was fortunate to have an
opportunity to stop at a girls’ orphanage, bringing
donations to assist them in their struggle to house,
feed, educate, and prepare the girls for entry into the
outside world one day. The orphanage receives no funding
from governments on any level. The orphanage survives on
donations, which determines the number of girls
The “Connie Fund” was directed towards a
teenage boy, Raul, to offset the costs of his impending
surgery to reverse the colostomy he received to correct
a birth defect when brought to the
U. S. several years ago. Raul has become a ‘special
patient’ of the medical mission.
In conclusion, the Spring 2007 Medical
Mission was a resounding success. Without a doubt, the
credit goes to the team members who worked tirelessly
during the long days in less than ideal conditions,
never complaining, and remaining upbeat with positive
attitudes in providing unconditional care and concern
for each and every patient seen in the clinic. At teams
go, this was without a doubt, one of the best!
The Executive Board of Directors extends a
very sincere thank you to each and every team member for
your contribution and commitment towards making this
mission a successful and memorable one. We can only hope
we will get the chance to share another unforgettable
experience with each of you on a future mission, and
that you returned bringing with you a sense of
fulfillment and satisfaction, along with the pride you
deserve for having been a volunteer for Project