2013 Guatemala Medical Mission Trip – Day 1

2013 Guatemala Medical Mission Trip – Day 1

Hola everyone,

Yesterday our team of Physician Assistants traveled from around the US to Jalapa, Guatemala.  After eating an amazing welcome dinner, we all separated and organized all of the medications and supplies needed for our trip. Today we traveled to the mountain village called El Roblar where we saw about 200 patients.

Below are some pictures and here are some thoughts from the team after the first day:

Michael Nowak – Incredible first day. Our team was up at 5am and traveled about 2 hours to a new mountain village (aldea) where we were welcomed by the Mayor as well as the Director of the First Lady’s office.  Common diagnoses included; diabetes, hypertension, parasitic infections, skin pathology, nutritional deficiencies, musculoskeletal complaints and more.  After working hard all day we returned to the house, enjoyed a well earned dinner, celebrated Alyssa’s (PA team member) Birthday and quickly repacked supplies for tomorrow’s busy day.

Ashton Burns – Hola de Jalapa! After a long day of travel we made it. Guatemala is beautiful. We saw 201 patients today! The people of Jalapa are so thankful for our care.

Alison Mueller – Hola! Today we started our day at 6:45 with a 2 1/2 hour drive to a small village in the middle of the mountains. To get to the village it was definitely an adventurous  ”off roading” ride! The Aldea villagers were the most gracious people I have ever met. The patients came dressed in the Sunday best and waited so patiently to be seen. We treated everything from skin infections to musculoskeletal complaints. Every patient left with a bag of vitamins and the children also got candy and toothbrushes! We saw over 200 patients and arrived back to the Sutton house at 8:30 p.m. It was a long yet day yet so rewarding in every way! I am so grateful for this opportunity to serve and I cannot wait to see what tomorrow will bring!

Diann Borthwith – 2 1/2 hour drive up to El Roblar. Twisting, turning, dusty, remote, up , up up!  AMAZING 8 1/2 hours of ninos, ninas, abuelos, abuelas, mamas and papas, medicina, communicacion and songrias! 2 1/2 hour drive down the mountain, dusty, turning, twisting, down, down, down! Delicious dinner of pasta. Thank you Marie and Rachael! AMAZING day! So thankful for this opportunity. Very humbling. So rewarding.

Patrice Cote – At the start of day one, I was very excited and nervous. I didn’t know what to expect when we arrived at the small mountain village after the first long and bumpy car ride. I was looking forward to dusting off my general medicine skills and the day did not disappoint! It was so rewarding to see the joy in the patient’s faces when we took just  a little time to help them. I can’t wait for the rest of the week.

Becki Johnston –  I was amazed at how helpful I could be for the people I encountered.  After a long, bumpy ride to the village, I was stationed to see patients and saw many awesome patients.  I diagnosed a new diabetic, a 17 year old boy who looked the age of at most 7 or 8 with severe malnourishment and anemia, and multiple cases of amoebiasis due to the lack of potable water.  My 1.5L water bottle filled with filtered water would be a luxury to these village people.  My eyes were opened to the poverty and the need; my heart was opened by the gratitude of the people in the village.  They are thankful for everything. “Muchas gracias” they would tell me.  “Por favor…  por favor.”  If only they knew how much they were giving me as well.

Cheryl Ann Lugiano –  Today was our first day examining patients.  It was quite a car ride to the “clinic”" (a converted schoolhouse).  It was a long rocky road and at times no designated road at all.  Jesus took the wheel and got us all there safely. Today I got to examine patients and was on a team with Cindi and Noah (our PA in training/translator).  It was the BEST team! At first people were difficult to diagnosis due to the nature of the land but by the afternoon we were a well-oiled machine! The people waited patiently and were very gracious!  It was an extremely productive day – 201 patients total – and we had the opportunity to see once in a life time diagnosis — pterygium, ameobas, and skin problems. I also learned the phrase “saca la lingula” and to you gringos it means “stick out your tongue.”  I pictured Guatemala in my mind before coming but it was NOTHING like expected — it is better and a pleasant surprise! Dinner was also a very experience,  chicken and cream – delicioso!

Alyssa Szenasi – Today was our first day in the clinic and my 30th birthday. We drove to an “aldea” or small village that was 1.5 hrs away. It was a very treacherous drive.  We asked that ” Jesus take the wheel”, on the bumpy and steep roads. The Mayor and the Department of the First Lady joined us at the village. We were slow going in the morning, only seeing 60 patients in the morning then we picked it up and saw 140 ppl in the afternoon. The people are so thankful and grateful for even the smallest things, vitamins and tylenol. I saw a patient with a fever of 102.9, with no obvious signs of infection and we gave him tylenol and IM injection of Ceftriaxone.  We came home and enjoyed an delicious meal of Cream Chicken, a Guatemala special and they surprised me with a chocolate cake. It was a great way to spend my 30th birthday, helping the needy; it was very rewarding.  I am forever changed  on Day 1.

Anna Kawa - Hola! Can’t believe I’m in Guatemala.  We started our mission trip with 2.5 hr drive into the small village in the mountains. We were escorted there by the police guards.  The road was rough – thank God for the excellent driver Doplhin. We arrived there and were welcomed by the Mayor of Jalapa and local people. The people of this village are very poor and they do not even have access to the clean water…..they are so friendly, hospitable and appreciative.  We set up  the clinic in the tiny school. It was challenging to organize all things as for most of us this was the very new experience. As the day went by it felt more and more like we were becoming closer to those people we were serving. We saw 200 patients that day. It was difficult to realize that most problems that those people were dealing with could be prevented with the simple environmental changes to which they don’t  have access.   I’m so grateful for everything! This was such a humbling experience…

Cindy McDonald – Today was such an amazing, eye opening experience in Jalapa, Guatemala! It started with our entire team piling into 2 vans that would take us on our 2 1/2 hour journey to literally the most remote village there is outside of Jalapa. On the way there, we picked up our 2 armed guards and 4 translators , who would accompany us for obvious communication help and any unforeseen safety circumstances we hopefully never encounter.  After arriving to the medical clinic, after travelling many miles up clay-dirt roads on remote mountainside, we set up our medical clinic with a mini pharmacy, lab, triage area, and patient station and provided care to 200 Guatemalan residents in approx 9 hours.  These were the most appreciative, gracious children and adults I have ever been around.  Many of these patients had never received medical care in their entire lives, yet the majority had  few medical complaints.   It was such a humbling experience and  such a great reminder of how blessed we are to live the United States with the  access to having the “world at our fingertips, ” while these Guatemalan people have literally nothing, without access to anything.  However these are still some of the most happiest and content people, with such a strong faith in God, that I couldn’t help to admire, and be reminded of God’s presence to all those who seek him.

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The entire PA team with baby Ian (one of the host family’s children from their orphanage)

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Beginning the day at the aldea with a special welcome from the Mayor of Guatemala

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Over 200 patients quickly lined up outside when they heard we were there for the day.

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Alison with one of the first patients.

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Do remember the name for this? - a slowly growing epithelial tissue that eventually occludes vision

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Toothpaste and toothbrushes for all the children.

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End of the day 1/2 team picture.

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Alyssa’s birthday party!

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Even Mish the cat enjoyed the team’s first day!



























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