Guatemala 

…In Panabaj, the site where Hurricane Stan buried over 1,500 people, they are living in a camp….in canvas tents that are no bigger than 10’x 10’.  There are 300 families…with two kitchens, one washing area.  The conditions are deplorable.  I was blessed to be the intake person and meet every person and hear their stories.  We served more than 400 people in Panabaj which was just a drop in the bucket….all were suffering from post traumatic stress.  Many had the usual flu, etc., but the skin and parasite conditions were rampant…..We had to work through two interpreters to gain the needed information, as it was a different dialect of Spanish in that region.  GuatemalaIt gave me a better of understanding of what it is like to be in a foreign country and not be able to communicate.  This will give me even more compassion for my patients here that cannot speak English.  I left a piece of my heart in Guatemala and look forward to going back next year…..

Denise Estabrook, RN, Providence Everett Medical Center
Sponsored by: Reach Beyond Borders
February 10-19, 2006, Guatemala

 

The mission team’s goal was to help a team of Guatemalan doctors and dentists provide care through clinics set up in three cities.  The clinical part of our mission treated 350 patients, the non-clinical portion delivered 250 pairs of eyeglasses…..The clinical team had three Guatemalan dentists and two Guatemalan doctors.  The support for these doctors was provided by our team.  Our duties were divided into many aspects of patient care, from pharmacy, dental assisting, and instrument sterilization.  The pharmacy is where I spent all of my time working mostly with two other people from my team and a Guatemalan second year med student.  I was the only one of our team with any formalized medical training and that is why I landed in the pharmacy……Last year a misunderstood prescription almost made it to a patient, except a nurse that was along on that trip caught the error that could have been fatal.

Joel Kassebaum, Staff Nurse, Providence Newberg Hospital
Sponsored by: Northside Community Church
January 28-February 6, 2006, Guatemala

GuatemalaMy goals and expectations were more than realized.  We accomplished a great amount of work, helping over 350 medical and dental patients.  The work we did for the communities as well as the team work within the group was tremendous.  I have already emailed many of my co-workers, friends and families as well as some of my patients who wanted to be apprised of our work.   One of my patients is considering applying to work Guatemalain the Peace Corps as a result of her own interests.  She said that my letters from Guatemala inspired her to make a decision. ……..

Maureen Gonzales, PT, Providence Newberg Hospital
Sponsored by: Rotary International (Newberg Noon Club)
March 15-22, 2006, Guatemala

 

…The doctor who was running the medical clinic encountered a young girl who was “tongue tied,” meaning her tongue was attached to the floor of her mouth for the full length of her tongue, not just towards the back as usual.  Because of this she could not touch the tip of her tongue to the roof of her mouth.  Although she did not have any trouble swallowing, she did have a speech impediment….although none of the dentists routinely did the surgery required for her to have fuller use of her tongue, a couple of them had performed it before.  The surgery lasted almost three hours.  The only sedation available was benadryl and a 1 mg tablet of ativan.  The dentists did have lidocaine carpules to numb the area as best they could….Everyone was thrilled when the surgery was over and she stuck her tongue out at us.  We also were able to arrange for speech therapy to see her.  I think for all of us it was a good reminder of how lucky we are to have health care at our disposal.

Verity Caruso, RN, Providence Newberg Hospital
Sponsored by: Rotary International (Newberg Noon Club)
March 15-22, 2006, Guatemala

 

…There are many experiences that have meaning and/or application for health care providers here in the States.  I will never forget sitting on a concrete floor with drawing paper and crayons.  Many children accompanied their parents, grandparents, nieces, and nephews on this trek to Las Obras.  Slowly, inch-by-inch, young children approached me and asked permission to draw.  Many spent the whole day doing Triage drawing and telling me about their families and their homes.  Eventually, many snuggled against me to have their picture taken and hung up on the nearby wall.   Self esteem was increased, as was trust, I believe, through shared experiences.  Trust was increased also through sharing family stories.  The Guatemalans were interested in learning about my life in the States.  And I was interested in hearing about theirs here in Guatemala.   Sometimes, I believe, we become so acclimated with being “professional” that we forget that we are all human beings and have our stories to share….

Chaplain Grethe H. Barber, Providence Portland Medical Center
Sponsored by: Faith in Practice
March 17-25, 2006, Guatemala

 

My personal goal was to be able to make a difference and learn to live more simply.  These people I met have so little but are so happy.  It really opened my eyes to faith/family and friends.  I can only hope that I touched their lives as they touched mine……

Emily Ohlin, Physical Therapist, Providence Gresham Rehab
Sponsored by: Faith in Practice
March 18-24, 2006, Guatemala

 

I definitely improved on my Spanish-speaking skills, since most of the time Guatemalawe did not have an interpreter available and the staff knew almost no English (the patients knew no English).  I have also come away with a new perspective on Hispanic people in general.  I no longer see them as impoverished (even though their material possessions are far less than ours); they are rich with a joy, peace and contentment that we seem to lack…..

Ann Topping, Physical Therapist, Providence Easter Seals Rehab Clinic
Sponsored by: Faith in Practice
Guatemala, March 18-24, 2006

 

…I feel the most important component I came away with is the idea that more can be provided with less.  We had minimum rehab equipment and our patients had some very serious medical conditions (rheumatoid arthritis, CP, spinal bifida, head injuries).  In the U.S. the typical person with CP would present with joint contractures in the knees, hips and elbows.  I expected my patients with CP to demonstrate similar joint contracture but they did not.  Because of the adequate staffing and the lack of an insurance company labeling range of motion as maintenance therapy for someone with PT, these services are provided 4-6 days a week.  These people do not experience the pain of joint contracture or loss of function associated with loss of motion.  Everyone deserves care and a little attention.  This provided on a consistent basis can make a significant difference.

Christine Panagos, Physical Therapist, Providence Portland Medical Center
Sponsored by: Faith in Practice
March 18-24, 2006, Guatemala

I know that we made a positive difference for many.  We could see the difference we were making on a daily basis.  My expectations were to contribute, but I didn’t realize just how much I would be helped in exchange.  I received more than I ever was able to give.  I wasn’t ready for the impact this experience would make on me and my attitude towards what is essential in life.

Jane Wilson RNC
Providence Portland Medical Center
Sponsored by: Faith in Practice
Guatemala, March 17-25, 2006

We served over 1200 in the medical clinic and 250 in the dental clinic.  We invited smaller villages nearby to attend the clinic.  It is always such a privilege to go on these teams and I get so blessed just being with the poor people of Guatemala.  Thank you so much for all your continued help and support.  I have always spoken of how much Providence has helped with medicines and airplane tickets and how much they truly care about the poor, both locally and abroad.

Maureen Schuster, Dietetic Technician
Providence Everett Medical Center
Sponsored by: Hands of Love
Guatemala, March 17-25, 2006

GuatemalaTo be there in person, to ride and walk on the dirt, sometimes muddy, roads, climb the hills, and to learn about how they struggle for basic daily necessities, such as food, water and personal hygiene, brought home to me how blessed we are as Americans.…Another case was that of a 2 year-old little boy brought by his mother for treatment of an inguinal hernia.  The clinic staff had been making arrangements (transportation, pre-op exam and lab work, etc.) for the little boy to have the surgery done at hospital near Guatemala City by a Christian surgeon with whom the clinic works, at a cost of about $75.  This case had particular meaning for me because I work in a modern, sophisticated outpatient surgery center where inguinal hernia repairs are very routine but very expensive…..

Anna Martin, Staff Nurse, Providence St. Peter Hospital
Sponsored by: Mano con Mano Health Reach
Guatemala, July 15-23, 2006

GuatemalaMany of the poor who came to us, to hopefully get their needed surgeries, walk for days down out of the mountains, and sit very patiently for hours in the hospital, waiting to be seen.  Nobody complains, they all just wait.  They also cook in their huts with open fires, so many of them have respiratory problems on top of their other problems.  We were able to do 52 surgeries while we were there, in the three operating rooms that we had…….The experience from my trip which had particular meaning to me was when the hospital chaplain asked me to go on her rounds with her to the recovery room.  While she was able to speak to these people in Spanish, I wasn’t, so I was able to give them a caring touch, by holding their hands and giving them a smile, which was “universal.”  I know these people know that we care about them, and I consider this to be a great honor to help these people.

Rebecca Rittel CST
Providence Portland Medical Center
Sponsored by: Faith in Practice
Antigua, Guatemala, May 6-14, 2005

…One experience that continues to stand out in my mind happened on May 10th, Mothers Day in Guatemala.  Mothers Day is “Big” in Guatemala, including large generational family gatherings as well as a parade.  For many mothers at Las Obras, this day involved a hysterectomy.  After surgery, another RN and I handed out flowers to each female patient.  For a moment in time as eyes looked into the depths of another, we were one as human beings, one as women.  Prayers, tears and smiles were shared.

Grethe Barber, Chaplain, Providence Portland Medical Center
Sponsored by: Faith in Practice
Antigua, Guatemala, May 6-14, 2005

The majority of the people in Guatemala are quite poor.  Education level is low and mostly non-existent for the rural working class.  Consequently, the ability to earn an income is quite limited.  There are some organizations committed to improving the situation there and also supporting the needy.  One such place is where we went to perform surgeries on the indigent people.  This place, Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro Hospital and Orphanage, is not just a hospital, it is a residence for the deformed and disabled.  What a wonderful site we found.  These residents are well taken care of and fed three meals a day.  Not only is it good for the residents, it provides jobs for the people that take care of them.

Pamela Dwyre, RN, Nurse Clinical Manager in Surgery
Providence Portland Medical Center
Sponsored by: Faith in Practice
Guatemala, May 8 - 13, 2005

This year I made my third trip to San Gabriel, Guatemala as part of a medical team…Each year I have seen more hope in this village.  The people of San Gabriel have hope in their faces.  They were healthier, a main road was being paved for the first time, and a parade was held for the school children.  It is a gift to be able to return to the same village and see the improvements in the health, education, water supply, and the friendship of the people I have met in this small village….I continued to teach and re-emphasize the importance of hygiene and basic nutrition.  Many of the people were doing the things I had recommended previously.  They were buying more fruits and vegetables….they were giving extra protein and milk to the pregnant mothers, and washing their hands well before food preparation.  The weight-to-height ratios were improving and very few cases of severe malnutrition were seen.  We saw over 800 people at the clinic and provided nutrition education, doctor visits, dental visits, medication, and vitamins.  It was a success!

Maureen Schuster, Dietetic Technician, PEMC, Everett
Sponsored by: Hands of Love
Guatemala, March 17 - 27, 2004