Today’s clinic day saw us in the village of Pastores. This beautiful location is tucked between two mountains and is well known for its leather work, specifically shoe and boot making. Every store makes and sells leather footwear.
Our medical team were kept on their ‘toes’ all day as we cared for the community’s healthcare needs.
We saw infants in respiratory distress, many cases of Chickungunya, and worked with local paramedics to help get a woman with a serious intestinal bleed to a hospital. Dr. Greg and nurse Monica also did a house call nearby!
As team members move in and out of various situations and roles we can count on each other’s support to keep the medical clinic functioning at full capacity.
Throughout the week Dr. Santina has been a key supporter of the team. Dr. Santina is our ‘cheerleader’. She is there to offer advice, expert knowledge and encouragement. It is her encouragement that has sustained us through the busy week. At the end of a long day Dr. Santina’s infectious positive energy provides the spark to ignite us.
Dr. Santina connects with people with great intent. She holds you in her attention listening to your story to ensure full understanding of what is being shared. This purposeful connection with people enables her patients to feel ‘cocooned’ within her protective care. It is a comfort to know women around the world have a strong advocate and friend in Dr. Santina.
Thursday was a well deserved rest day. Since arriving in Guatemala, the team has worked non-stop. We started the week with a full day preparing to be mobile, then straight into 3 long clinic days. It was good to have a day to rejuvenate as we move into the last few days of our work in Guatemala.
Team members took time to learn more about the people of Guatemala, specifically Antigua. What a beautiful historical town. Antiqua is a city in Southern Guatemala surrounded by volcanos. Indeed today we heard a great ‘rumble’ from one of the volcanos. Two days ago the same volcano showed some activity by sending smoke into the sky.
I would be remiss if I did not once again share about our exceptional healthcare team. Every member of the team brings so much of themselves, that we are truly greater than our sum. The synergy among the team builds each individual up so that only the very best is exposed.
Everyone demonstrates leadership in action.
Our hospitalist, Dr. Greg, is the epitome of leadership with humility. He brings so much humanity, caring and dignity to his health care work that it demands others to follow suit, making a difference in the lives of all he comes in contact with. Dr. Greg’s patients benefit from his expertise and we have the privilege to work with him.
Day 3 in Guatemala saw the team incredibly busy. Today they broke into two teams. A clinic team and a teaching team.
The amazing medical team were in two communities. The morning saw them in Parramos and the afternoon clinic they worked in Antigua. What has quickly become the norm, the clinics were very busy with people waiting for us prior to our arrival. I cannot emphasize enough how hard the medical team works. It truly is a collaborative team working together well into the late evening to ensure every person who needs to is seen by a medical care provider.
At both locations the logistics of ensuring a streamlined movement of people from registration, through the clinic and onto the pharmacy is accomplished by Lisa and Ken. Their welcoming manner is a blessing to the families in a hot and crowded environment. Great thanks to them both for their work.
The teaching team taught two sessions on the subjects of paediatric dehydration, newborn care and obstetrical management. Our audience was Guatemalan medics and nursing students. The morning and afternoon session saw us reaching out to over 120 students and paramedics.
It was rewarding for us to meet the students and other healthcare providers in Guatemala. The high professional standard and drive for knowledge will ensure devoted healthcare individuals for Guatemala.
Having been able to be a part of the Guatemalan healthcare community, even for a short time, is a life experience. I give thanks to the students and paramedics for letting us be part of their learning and work life.
What a fantastic day we had! It was our first day offering medical relief to the Guatemalan community of Chimaltenango. Our whole team was fully engaged to ensure all those who came to the clinic received individualized care.
Our paediatrician, Dr. Michael, was a big hit! He was constantly surrounded by children. He spent the day examining and treating infants, toddlers and children. Every parent whose child was seen by Dr. Michael was greatly comforted to have the expertise of a Canadian paediatrician.
The pharmacy team, lead by Miranda, was a “work of art”. They were a streamlined, efficient team working tirelessly into the evening. Miranda ensured that all 320 individuals received their treatment medications with an explanation and written instructions corresponding to the medications.
For myself, the most humbling experience of the day was the hug I received from an eleven year old boy who came to the clinic completely by himself. This lad had cellulitis of the lower leg. He was treated with medication injected directly into the muscle and given medication to be continued over the next several days. The relief this young man felt was expressed in a spontaneous hug. I was blessed to have been at the receiving end of this expression of emotion.
I give thanks to the community of Chimaltenango for letting us be a part of their lives for a moment. It was an honour to be with you.
Day one is spent sorting and preparing for the first clinic day. This requires “all hands on deck” and everyone helps to get things done. This means counting and sorting medications, vitamins and supplies as well as photocopying and paper cutting. The team is excited and ready to go.
Everyone is safe and sound in Guatemala this morning.
“We arrived safe and sound and on time and were met by the Loving Arms people who transported us to Antigua. All our bags arrived without incident and cleared customs, including the hockey bags containing medical supplies and vitamins. After a 1 hour drive to Antigua the team checked into the hotel and looked forward to a good night’s sleep.
Today we are going to the Loving Arms Centre to sort medicines, prepare the pharmacy supplies and get ready for the first clinic day. We will be taking some photos and will send them.” Ken Dick, president.
The first clinic day tomorrow will be a “first” for some of our team members and a “first in a long time” for others. It is an experience they will not soon forget. Being a part of providing a much-needed service to people who do not have access to regular medical care is life-changing. We can’t wait to hear from each of these team members about their experiences.
We are in the final countdown to our Guatemala medical team visit. Because we hadn’t yet received our charitable status, we partnered with Loving Arms, a Canadian charity which operates out of their Centre of Hope in Parramos, Guatemala. EMI will be sending a medical team to Itzapa — a city of 32,000 people — in November.
Rebecca McAlpine, EMI’s Medical Projects Director, has been working tirelessly to put this team together and will be providing leadership in Guatemala. I had no idea how much it takes to organize one of these trips. We are so grateful for all of her hard work. The team of 13 people includes 3 doctors and 5 nurses.
We will be working at the Loving Arms Centre of Hope and in nearby villages providing needed medical care and health education. The team will be leaving on November 5th and returning on November 13th. Please pray for the safety and success of this team of amazing volunteers.
Last year, a team of people from EMI visited Haiti to check out a medical clinic in Croix-des-Bouquets, owned by a local NGO. Due to some financial hardship, the medical clinic has been sitting idle for 3+ years. This NGO was actively searching for partnership in reopening the clinic and returning to serving the needs of the local people. I seemed like the perfect fit for a home base for our teams to run clinics in the country.
What we found there was several examination rooms, a pharmacy, an operating room, a dental room and a laboratory. The clinic has electrical power supplied by the city, with a back-up generator. Water is supplied from a well. We also found several vehicles in various states of disrepair which could be used to transport teams.
The clinic is located in a suburb of the capital Port-au-Prince called Croix-des-Bouquets, and has no other medical services in the area. Unfortunately, time has not been kind to the clinic and it needs significant cleaning and maintenance. We are currently recruiting for a team to go in late November 2016 to begin this work.