2015 GPGP Mission Day 1- Pharmacy

November 2nd, 2015 was a life changing experience for us. It was our first day at the clinic! Today tested our strength, knowledge, communication and pharmacy skills unlike any other experience thus far.  We, three 6th year pharmacy students, along with our preceptor, Dr. Gim, as well as other pharmacists, doctors, and dentists took an hour drive through the rural streets of Solola, Guatemala to our clinic setting. It started out as an empty building, but after just a few hours turned into a clinic, which allowed for the collaboration of health care professionals from all over the world.  Our concern before we arrived was if it was going to be possible to communicate with the people of Guatemala so they can be provided with the best health care possible. Thankfully, we had several translators who spoke English, Spanish and Kiche.

After countless hours of hard work and fundraising it was nice to see the outcome was worth it. We set up a pharmacy from scratch using only tables and bookshelves to hold what seemed like an endless amount of medications. We were told many times by practitioners who had been on this mission previously that this was the most medication the pharmacy team had ever brought

When the day first began we thought the class of medication that would be dispensed most would be antibiotics, but to our surprise as the day progressed we dispensed more multivitamins, analgesics and antacids as opposed to anything else.

The first day was a total success, bringing in double the number of patient’s compared to last year’s first day. We worked well past sundown, forcing us to use the dental teams head flashlights to allow us to process prescriptions. We were not going to leave until every patient had their medications, making us as the last department to finish.


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Mission Guatemala: Day 4- Open up and say AHHH!

On the fourth morning of our health care mission, as the team assembled for breakfast, we thought back to last night when a plaque was presented to our group honoring the connection and interaction with Vivamos Mejor. In the presentation speech, Dr Carlos Flores from Vivamos Mejor, stressed that many non-profit groups contribute to the cause, but it is The Penicillin Girl Project that works so closely together to make the lives and healthcare of the people a true priority.  This made us feel proud that, even though we are a small organization, we do have a major impact on the lives of those we treat.

And so we all began the last day of the mission in uniform, helping each other set up our appropriate stations. Health care screenings are being completed by volunteers and medical students from Guatemala. Prevention of disease is being stressed and fluoride varnish is being applied by the medical students to all children and adults screened as a preventive measure.  In just 4 days, we have accomplished hundreds of preventive and emergency treatments including sealants, restorations and prophylactic cleanings, and extractions. Since this health care mission is possible only once a year for our humble organization, teaching the people how vital oral care is to the body became a priority for us. Education and prevention was stressed as we began to understand the lack of access to medical care the 9 communities of Santa Catarina have.

For some of us, this started as a health care mission where we could gain experience in the field of our profession and doing good service. As the days passed, this journey quickly became a voyage of discovery to that would change each one of us in a different way. The mission trip was an eye opening experience that made us realize that many things we take for granted in the United States is a luxury for the people of Guatemala.

Every mission trip has an unexpected factor. We never would have expected to be so emotionally involved. As we began to treat the beautiful and appreciative people of the 9 communities, we felt empathy, gratification, sadness, and even love. Marcel Proust has a famous line: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” As this journey came to its conclusion, we can say that we not only depart with a new vision of our goal to give back to people in need, but we do so with a new heart.






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Mission Guatemala: Day 3- Looking through the eyes of the world


“Me disculpe! Espera alli por favor!”

The entrance at the Optometrist’s office was crowded with forlorn
faces, waiting to be examined. The prospective patients were jockeying
for position but I kept asking them to wait in a straight line along
the wall. I was trying to create order since entering and leaving the
room was difficult.

My feet ached. Oddly, I did not feel this badly when I completed a
marathon last year.

Until a few days ago, I was a medical mission virgin. While foreign
travel was not new, I was apprehensive about my role in this trip. I
was the only non-healthcare professional of the group. I did not want
to be a liability and hear everyone ask “Who brought this idiot?”

I was determined to be helpful.

My job as a photographer was well defined. I would be a fly on the
wall and surreptitiously document the activities amongst the different
disciplines: Medical, Pediatrics, Pharmacy, Dental, and Optometry. On
the first day, I lurked around the different clinics and snapped away.
It was exciting to witness patient interactions and even the
horrifying dental extractions. I was always busy capturing candid
moments, but when the Optometrist arrived, I had more work to do.

Marleny and I greeted each other, and we were ready to get started.
The Optometrist spoke little English. My Spanish language abilities
were proficient decades ago in high school. I suspected this would be
a great plot for a made for television movie, but we were able to
communicate quickly. We organized the prescription glasses, bifocals
and sunglasses in order of lens specifications. Unfortunately we did
not have enough space on the table for all of the inventory, so there
were a few unsorted bags lying around.

Marleny was indefatigable. She saw consecutive patients without
breaks, with exception to lunch, yet demonstrated empathy for every
patient and smiled often. After each consultation I searched for the
closest prescription to offer the patient. She was vigilant with the
glasses we handed out. While these products were donated, she
maintained a high standard. If we did not find a suitable fit, then we
apologized and sent the patient away empty handed. I respected that
but my job was far from glamorous. I immediately realized what early
stage librarians experienced before the advent of the catalog. Alas, I
dared not to complain since my other colleagues were working
tirelessly as well.

Over two days Optometry saw 100 patients. While I was proud of what
was accomplished today, I hope that we can help many more tomorrow.

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2014 Mission Guatemala Day 2- Perspectiva en Español

Experiencia vivida Guatemala 2014:

Quisiera empezar diciéndoles que todo en esta vida pasa por algún motivo….Dios sabe como guiarnos. Una noche estaba tranquila teniendo todos mis planes bien definidos cuando de pronto mis planes cambiaron de la noche a la mañana, se me dio la oportunidad de poder unirme a este grupo hermoso de gran calidad humana, que agradezco infinitamente a Dios que haya puesto en mi camino esta Misión.

Primer día: Expectante

Llegamos a esta ciudad tan alejada de la capital en donde vimos niños, adultos, ancianos, jóvenes que estaban observándonos sorprendidos de nuestra llegada. Nos recibieron con unas palabras el Alcalde de la Comunidad y empezamos a trabajar. Todos en equipo trabajando organizándonos en cada ambiente destinado para las atenciones de medicina general, pediatría, oftalmología, farmacia y dental.

El único inconveniente era que hablaban Quiche, pero gracias a tan buena organización, contamos con la participación de varios traductores, que algunos hablaban inglés, español y Quiche.

El primer día estuve atendiendo en Medicina General, me dio tanta pena ver que la mayoría de personas que atendí estaban totalmente descuidadas. Adolescentes y mujeres adultas que llegaban por un simple dolor de cabeza y luego resultaron que estaban embarazadas y ellas no estaban enteradas de que dentro de su vientre llevaban a un ser que iba creciendo poco a poco. Habían también gestantes que sí sabían que estaban embarazadas pero que lamentablemente no tenían controles regulares. Muchos adultos con problemas musculares. Se ve de todo y en realidad te das cuenta que necesitan mucha ayuda. En esta ciudad, hay un puesto de salud que no está operativo porque no han contratado personal de Salud, ya que según lo que muchas personas comentaron, La salud a nivel general en Guatemala está pasando por una crisis económica ya que no se está remunerando al personal y no invierten como debe de ser en la Salud y priorizan en otros ámbitos, caso típico que no solo enfrenta Guatemala sino muchos países.

Segundo día: Atención en Pediatría

El segundo día me tocó atender a la Población más vulnerable, los niños,  observaba como es que una Señora pasaba al consultorio con sus hijos y no eran dos o tres, sino que eran 6 o 7 por cada madre que pasaba al consultorio. La mayoría de niños están desnutridos pero dentro de todo no vi muchas infecciones respiratorias, gastrointestinales, lo que más observe fueron enfermedades dermatológicas. Todo niño que pasaba al consultorio me miraba con una carita de felicidad inexplicable, tenían una mirada fija hacia mi persona pero también hacia una maleta que estaba atrás mío, y es que en esa maleta resaltaban muchos colores y era como si ellos hubieran encontrado un tesoro….eran los regalos, todo niño ilusionado por recibir un regalo. Me dio mucho gusto de que aparte de poder ayudarles en la parte de la salud pude observar estos pequeños momentos de felicidad de los niños. Es indescriptible

Al terminar la jornada del segundo día, La comunidad como muestra de agradecimiento hacia nosotros prepararon unos Bailes típicos y veías que tú paciente que atendiste hace un rato, estaba bailando Feliz tratando de que todos nosotros pasemos un buen momento con ellos. Fueron como cinco bailes típicos, todo muy organizado.

Hasta ahorita con todo lo vivido en estos dos días puedo decir que fue obra de Dios traerme y ser partícipe de esta gran obra que te hace sentir que esta ayuda que das es un granito de arena pero poco a poco se logra mucho. Espero que en otras oportunidades pueda apoyar. ¡Una experiencia inolvidable!


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