7/14 -- Monday
Monday was the beginning of the four days that I would mostly spend with the medical team. I don't think that Tom (the nurse practitioner) and I expected to be working outside of clinic hours, but that is what happened. Monday was the first day that our team members started getting sick. I would say that around 2/3rds of our party got sick, but thankfully, most episodes lasted no longer than 24 hours.
I went down to breakfast, and most of the medical team was already eating. We were able to take a later start than all of the other teams because part of our morning was spent at the hotel for clinic orientation. I ate about half my breakfast then went up to check on some team members per request, and so did Tom. Again, thankfully, what everybody needed was just some good rest and rehydration. We stressed drinking fluids and taking it easy, then went back to finish our breakfast.
Loading up the truck with medical supplies
After orientation, we headed out on the army truck to the Mission Upreach headquarters in Santa Rosa. We loaded up a trailer with medical supplies, which was attached to one army truck. It took two army trucks each day to lug us all up the mountain to the remote village of La Montana de La Virgen (I think that is right... it is "Mountain of the Virgin" in English). It took two ours each way with the roads being how they are. If you can think refer back to what I told the roads were like in the country, then you will know how they were for this trip, except 8 times longer and twice a day. In total, I would say that the medical team spent 16 hours total riding in the back of army trucks.
Riding in the army truck up the mountain
Backing into the road in front of the school
When we finally reached the village school, we had to back up into the road so we could unload medical supplies. Unfortunately the first day, we ran into one of the villagers fences during this process because of trying to back in the trailer. It was either hit the fence or go over the cliff.
The local school
It took us a little over an hour to set up the clinic. We had a registration table near the front gate of the school, and the gate was guarded by a couple of our soldiers. That's right! Four soldiers stood guard of the school day and night from that point on so our medical supplies would not get touched. I also had one of the soldiers for my interpreter, but that story is for another day. Beyond registration, we used four of the classrooms for clinic processing. The first room was the eyeglass clinic. Jessie, Leslie, and a few others were in this room fitting people for reading glasses. The male interns, Matt and... oh dear... I'm blanking on the other's name, helped them translate Spanish. From the eyeglass clinic, the patients went to "intake," where vital signs, weight, and blood glucose were checked. Jennifer, Jeremy, Nyla and Jacob worked in intake. I was very proud of Nyla and Jake for not only how hard they worked but what great bedside manners they had. They treated each and every person with kindness and gentleness.
If there were any vital signs or blood sugars that were way out of the normal range, Steve would make sure that that particular patient was moved to the front of the line for a medical consult. From here, each person would either see me, Field (the medical student), Tom (nurse practitioner), or one of three Honduran physicians (Walter, Cecilia... and again, I am blanking on the third name). I averaged seeing about thirty patients a day because it took me time to prescribe the right treatment for each patient. When I was unsure about a medication, I would ask either Tom or Walter. I am not used to prescribing medications, but either Tom or Walter would usually confirm what I thought to be the most helpful drug.
The curtains were used to separate the rooms into five different exam rooms. I was just inside the door.
After the medical consult, each person would turn in their diagnosis and treatment form to pharmacy, where Pat (who sometimes worked in eyeglass), Jaye (I think?), Harold, Don, and some others worked. Please forgive me for those I am leaving out! The medications were already counted out for proper dosages, so the pharmacy techs would grab each drug, then Don would check that the right medication was prescribed and filled before sending it out the door to Diana. Diana called each person's medical number when the medications were ready, and would explain each medication name, what it was for, why it was prescribed, how to take it, etc. After this, they were free to go!
So now that I have described how the medical clinic was set up, you have the general idea of what to picture when I tell you about seeing patients the next three days. After setting up, we went back to the hotel, ate dinner, and met the church planting team of Mission Upreach, who gave a presentation on how they approach church planting and the current work that was being done.
I really loved this presentation. It was so encouraging to see so many different church planting projects in different phases! People were hearing the Gospel and meeting Jesus. Every time I think about it, joy fills my heart. Apparently the medical brigades have an important part in church planting, because the planting team observes how receptive certain villages are to the brigades to judge whether or not the village would also be open to having the church planting team visit. This really encouraged me because I oftentimes wonder how my profession affects those around me other than providing physical healing. I pray for others and talk about Jesus, but it was so awesome to see how providing a medical clinic could lead to telling people about Jesus to a whole village!
Lord, I am so thankful for Phil, Donna, and the whole team at Mission Upreach. I can see You working through them to make relationships with everyone in Honduras!