Our Family Medicine team was eager to start the second day of the mission after a busy, but meaningful first day seeing more than 200 patients total as a group. Dr. Rojas worked seeing pediatric patients while Dr. Figuracion, Dr. Kissane and Dr. Lewis worked seeing adults for general medicine.
We felt apprehension and excitement as this was our first medical mission abroad. We didn’t know what to expect. It was such a striking moment when our team gathered in front of the clinic and spoke to the crowd that waited outside on the first day we arrived. People came from far away places just to be seen by us. It was humbling. Our general medicine room only consisted of three small tables with chairs and two exam tables, but our enthusiasm and teamwork helped transform it into a very efficient medical unit.
The majority of the patients speak Kiche, which is a Mayan dialect that they use in Solola. For those of us who did not know much Spanish this was particularly challenging, as most of the interpreters available only spoke Spanish and Kiche. This pushed us to fully immerse ourselves and improve our Spanish speaking skills quickly.
By our second day, we were finally getting the hang of seeing patients, providing appropriate care to those in need and educating the population.
As we progressed in our ability seeing patients we began to better understand the struggles of the locals. Most patients were unable to see a physician for years at a time and could not afford to purchase common over the counter medications.
It also became apparent that women do not have adequate access to regular pre-natal care. Fortunately, Dr. Lewis was able to do bedside ultrasounds with a portable handheld sonogram machine, which GPGP intends to donate for use by the local physicians in the future.
We are looking forward to continuing our work here for the rest of the week and helping those in the community that can benefit from our help. It has been an enlightening experience so far and we will definitely bring back to our practice in the US what we have learned here.