The connection between doctor, nurse and patient is not the same here as it is the US. Back home, the doctors say very few patients would thank them after they just had a hernia operation or a vaginal hysterectomy. But in Guatemala it’s different. They don’t take medical care or our work for granted. They see it as a gift.
SEEING THE BIG PICTURE
“All of you want to do more and you want the people to have more,” Karen Prevatt, our pastor said, during our morning devotional time.
Our dentist wishes she could save permanent teeth with root canals and other treatments, some of the doctors wish their patients could have follow up treatments with radiation or physical therapy, and our auditory team wishes they had an assortment of hearing aids so they could help more people in their area.
Not being able to give our patients everything we wish is frustrating, but on Thursday, Karen reminded us that we don’t always get to see the big picture.
“You may feel like you are only doing something small, but you may not see the complete effect of your work,” she said.
She reminded us even though we want to do so much more that each day we were making a difference ---not just for the patient, but their family and everyone who knew them.
MAKING THE ROUNDS
Every morning as soon as we arrive at the hospital, the doctors (along with their translators) make their rounds through the wards to see how their patients are doing.
Most of them will be going home today including 8-year-old Daniela who had her tonsils out. Devona would also be going home. In her 40s, she had her gallbladder removed and her teenage daughter had been staying by her side while she recovered in the ward.
“I feel much better,” she said. “The doctor is wonderful. Thank you.”
Her doctor was Dr. Richard Bland. Before he left her side that morning, she wanted a photo to remember him. She grabbed his hand tightly and smiled big. She was just so happy.
Heber, a 22-year-old, was also doing well. He had a severe hearing problem and had come in with his older brother the day before.
“Our parents are dead so I take care of him,” said Heber’s brother. “He was hit by a car when he was 4 and after that he couldn’t hear.”
|Heber and his brother|
The change in Heber was incredible. During Wednesday’s consultation, he didn’t say a word and relied on his brother to do all the talking. In fact, I wasn't sure he could talk. Today though, he was talking with his brother and asking our translator questions.
Even with the language barrier, we have bonded with both our Guatemalan patients and the hospital staff. Using hand gestures and a combination of the few English words they know and the few Spanish words we’ve picked up while there, we listen as they tell us about their children and families, and we do the same. Somehow we understand each other and are able to share.
THE NUMBERS SAY IT ALL
Over the past six days, we have become the masters of flexibility –whether it was overcoming the issue of having no water (on Thursday we again had water problems - making it 4 days in a row) or accommodating patients who showed up hours, even days, later than their scheduled appointments due to transportation issues.
We tried to accommodate as many as possible in our already tight schedule, and in addition to the scheduled surgeries, we saw over 50 walk-ins over the week. Dr. Maggie Arner and Dr. Mark Hoeplinger were able to help all these extra people with their basic family physician needs.
In Guatemala, nothing runs like clockwork and we’ve accepted you have to take things as they come. And now, just as it seems we had figured out how to do everything, we were finishing up the last of our scheduled surgeries and getting ready to pack everything up. Tomorrow we would be taking the bus to Antigua.
That night we had an amazing meal at Romeo’s restaurant. Romeo had been preparing meals for our team all week and just like our lunches had been wonderful, so was the food that night. It ranged from a beef dish, to rice and pasta dishes, to traditional Guatemalan salads and vegetables, to these incredible desserts. It was a buffet none of us would forget.
•Audiology did 125 consultants and gave out 42 hearing aids over the week
•Dental saw 95 patients and completed 582 procedures
•Triage patients seen but not scheduled for surgery: EMT- 91, GYN -18, GEN -13
•The GYN team did 18 surgeries and 24 procedures
•The GEN team did 24 surgeries
•The EMT team did 24 surgeries and 26 procedures
In total we did 66 surgeries and performed 74 procedures. If we include all the triage patients, we affected over 300 people and their families over the course of the week. In other words, as a team WE ROCK !
“Our original work in this region was designed to be surgeries, but it turned out to be much more,” said Dr. Ray Maddox, our team leader. "I thank you for the contributions you made."