Glens Falls Medical Mission Foundation.

A List of Helpful Tips From Previous Trips

Clinics set-up to help Guatemalan patients.Thank you for your interest in, and your willingness to accompany us to Guatemala for our medical mission. We have compiled a few “helpful hints” to assist you in preparing for your trip and to make the experience as comfortable as possible.
  • First and foremost, if you do not have a current passport, apply NOW. It can sometimes take as long as 6-8 weeks to obtain the passport after you have filed the application.
     
  • Carry your passport with you at all times. Make several copies of your passport and keep one on you, one in each piece of luggage, one in your purse, etc. (You may wish to bring a passport pocket that hangs around your neck or waist) Also, keep one copy back at home.
     
  • If you are a licensed health care provider, we need a copy of your license and registration as well as a copy of your passport.
     
  • If you didn’t bring it with you, we don’t have it! Many supplies for patient care will be provided but if there is something that you wish to have for yourself, bring it. Examples include stethoscopes, BP cuffs, otoscopes, a flashlight, fanny pack, zip-lock bags, and bug spray. Some members have found it helpful to bring hand cleaners and wet wipes. Be sure to bring your own soap, shampoo and wash cloth as these are not provided at the hotel in Cuilapa.
     
  • Do not drink the water in Guatemala! The hotels where we will be staying have bottled water for sale and in water coolers on each of the floors for refills. Never drink water directly from a faucet.
     
  • Meals will be provided for us while we are in Cuilapa, but some people found it nice to have crackers or energy bars, etc. with them to munch on.
     
  • Bring old clothing and shoes with you. Many of us left the clothing worn at the clinic at the hotel or hospital in Cuilapa where they could be cleaned and distributed to the people. If you want to bring things back home with you the hotel SOMETIMES has a very reasonable laundry service. (This laundry service has not always been available on every trip). Scrubs are great for clinic and many found wet bandanas around the neck or head to help cool them off during hot clinic times. The weather will be hot and humid so be prepared. There is a pool at the hotel so also bring a swimsuit. There may be a couple of evenings when we “go out” so you may want to bring something a little nicer (but not fancy) for those occasions. You may wish to consider spraying your work clothes with Permethrin before going on the trip. It kills insects and lasts through several washings. You may also want to bring insect repellent that is at least 20% DEET to repel mosquitoes.
     
  • The unit of currency in Guatemala is the Quetzal. $1.00 = about 6 quetzals. US dollars can be exchanged at the airport in Guatemala City on our arrival there. Bring smaller US bills for exchange. You will find that travelers checks are NOT welcome in Guatemala. Credit cards can be used in major hotels and in some stores or restaurants in Guatemala City and Antigua. Credit cards can also be used for some tour trips. Our experience is that VISA is the preferred one but Master Charge is also accepted. American Express usually is not.

     

Medical Protection

Immunizations:

  • MANDATORY: Hepatitis B vaccine – series of 3 injections, initial and then 1 month and at 6 months. If you have already had the series of vaccines, you can have a blood test to check your titer for immunity. If your titer is less than 10, you need to have a booster shot. Tetanus – If you have not received immunization in the past 5-10 years, this needs updating before the trip.
     
  • Strongly Recommended: Hepatitis A Vaccine – Initial injection with a booster in 6 months.
     
  • Voluntary: Some of the mission team members in the past have used the following medications and treatments while others have chosen not to.
    • Malaria Prophylaxis - Chloroquin 1 tablet weekly beginning 1 week prior to leaving for Guatemala and continuing until two weeks after returning home.
       
    • Parasite Prophylaxis – Vermox 1 tablet twice a day for 3 days. Begin the first dose when leaving Guatemala.
       
    • Head Lice Prophylaxis – NIX crème rinse prior to leaving for Guatemala and consider repeating on the return home.
       
    • Dengue Fever – This disease is carried by mosquitoes. The only good protection is to use insect repellent with a high DEET content.
       
    • Gastrointestinal Infections – Unfortunately there is no good prophylaxis for the most common types of GI problems usually caused by viral agents, but some team members have chosen to use Levoquin 250mg/d while in Guatemala to protect from the bacterial forms of gastroenteritis. We have had team members become ill with gastroenteritis with or without using Levoquin. The key to the treatment of diarrhea is always adequate hydration. Always be sure to maintain adequate hydration and push fluids before and during the trip. The current recommendations for traveler’s diarrhea are:
       
    • Imodium for the first 24-36 hours. If symptoms persist, either Cipro 500mg twice a day for three days or Levoquin 500mg daily for three days or Floxin 400mg twice a day for 3 days should be added.

These are almost always effective. Those persons who have a history of traveler’s diarrhea or who have a high susceptibility for gastroenteritis have begun Levoquin 250mg daily one day prior to leaving for Guatemala and continued it until returning home.

We are all looking forward to a great experience in Guatemala. We hope these little hints will help you on your way to an enjoyable and unique experience to.

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