Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Leaving San Jose

Today was our last day in San Jose. In the morning, we had several hours of clinic, and even though it was the last day of the brigade, patients arrived early to register just like every other day. Our group moved with amazing efficiency with our different tasks, whether it was squaring away the pharmacy, cleaning up the dorm area, or seeing patients. Seeing us work together one last time made me start to feel sad about saying goodbye to these people; it is truly amazing how our brigade became close to a family during our time here. The last patient I saw was a lady who had been returning to clinic for several days to have her blood pressure and blood sugar checked. As I precepted with Dr. Tonya, I glanced around and saw other medical students and pharmacists each working with a patient or handling a task, and it seemed so natural, as if we had always worked together and been in San Jose at Hombro a Hombro.

After we loaded up the pickup trucks and ate a delicious lunch (each person had a whole fish), the goodbyes began. From the kitchen staff to the little kids to the members of the Health Committee, it was hard saying goodbye to the community. What was most surprising was that many of us had probably not had a full conversation in English or Spanish with these individuals, yet we made a connection with them. As we started down the mountain, people from the community waved from their homes with big smiles; it was an amazing feeling.

We arrived in Roatan around 6 pm and immediately hit the beach! This seemed like a great idea, and it was fun, but it wasn’t till Heather and I got out of the water that we realized we had been destroyed by mosquitos. Lesson learned: don’t go to the beach at dusk. We all shared a delicious meal at the hotel restaurant; we ranged from exhausted to excited to overwhelmed, yet we all had a great time together. The area of Roatan we are in is called the West End, and it has little shops and restaurants up and down the street. We listened to Stephanie perform at karaoke; she was by far the best talent there. At the end of the night, my classmates and I ended up at the end of a pier watching a lightning storm. Some of us ended up going for a midnight swim, which was pretty funny.

One night at dinner in San Jose, Angela asked us what our favorite part of the day was. Since then, I have asked myself that every day of the brigade. The ride down the mountain, with all its bumps and turns and dust, was my absolute favorite part of the day. As we descended, we passed a couple towns where we had done well child visits earlier in the brigade. I saw children out in front of their homes waving who had been there when we had come up the mountain a week and a half before. There were children walking home from school. We passed the most beautiful viewpoints of San Jose, El Progreso and San Pedro Sula.

I tried to take some final pictures, but I eventually gave up and tried to take mental snapshots of all the beauty around us. It was ten times better just trying to enjoy my surroundings one last time. The thoughts that passed through my mind were very different from when I had traveled up the mountain. As I saw the children, I wondered how long they had walked to and from school, whether they were able to attend one of our well child visits, whether they were healthy or if they had clean water and sanitation. During the trip down, I realized that my experience in San Jose has forever changed my own experience with medicine, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this medical brigade.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

San Jose Well Child Visit - and a National Holiday for Children

by Salomon Payuma, MS-3

Today was a big day for the clinic. We had the well child visit for San Jose which is held in house of the “Hombro a Hombro Clinic” and is the most attended well child visit since its located in the clinic’s town. We set up our stations early in the morning as we were expecting a big crowd. A car with a loudspeaker went around town announcing the well child visit, which brought more attention to the event. It was also a national holiday for the children, which allowed more of them to come.

At around 8 am crowds started to show up. We had groups of students in the different stations including: 1. Height and weight, 2.Hemoglobin, 3.Physical exam, 4.Eye testing, 5.Pharmacy and 6. Dental Varnish. Medical students, residents, pharmacy student and residents and attending’s worked together to ensure all the children were seen and their needs taken care appropriately. It started slowly and by 9 am there was a huge line of patients waiting to be registered.

I was in charged of the eye station and we had a great time talking to the kids and figuring out which way was easier for them to identify the figures. We tried many strategies depending on their age. They were laughing most of the time, some were shy other very outgoing. Also they were smart and started learning the order of the figures so we had to switch around the order of the figures so we could continue to accurately test their vision. Sometimes also kids would give the answers to their friends.

Since we were close to the dental varnish station, we could see how the kids were not swallowing their fluoride but instead spitting it. We tried our best to educate them about the health benefits. We also helped with crowd control by directing kids that were already done with their checkup to go home. There was one particular kid who kept on bothering other kids and was disturbing our task. We took some time to talk to him and get him to help us see which kids were not swallowing their fluoride. This was he used his energy in a positive way.

We powered through the morning and very efficiently managed to see more than 170 kids by noon. Meanwhile, the clinic had the most attendance since we had gotten to Honduras. The rest of the healthcare team worked really hard to see all the patients.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Fall 2013 Brigade

Blogger: Anna Goodheart, 3rd year medical student

    Hola! We've arrived safely in San Jose! We rode up the mountain in the back of a couple of pick up trucks, and saw some absolutely gorgeous views! A lot of the landscape here appears largely untouched, but there are also houses and farms interspersed among the greenery. Some of the farms have corn growing on almost vertical slopes, and I can't even imagine how much hard work must go into farming here. There are also banana trees, coffee trees, and tons of corn.
    Sunday evening we all settled in. It turns out that there was no running water for our first night, but it was quickly fixed the next morning. We are staying in dormitories with bunk beds. Meals are cooked for us by some amazing women. The food here is SO good. Even for us vegetarians, there is tons to eat - there are plenty of delicious handmade tortillas and refried beans. The coffee here is also excellent - it's picked locally on the mountain and made fresh by the women and has a naturally sweet taste to it.
    Today, a group went to  Vista Hermosa for well child checks, and a group of us stayed behind at the clinic. At the clinic there is one team that runs the pharmacy and another team that sees patients in the clinic. I got to see three patients in the morning, with the help of a translator. It is amazing how much medical care is provided here despite lacking many of the resources that we have become used to having in the States. It also forces us to think on our feet more because we don't always have tests or the drugs here that we would normally use back home.
    The clinic here has one full time doctor, Tanya, who works here at the clinic all year round, with a nurse and a dentist. This brigade comes down every six months, brining supplies with us. Our role is to travel to other villages to do well child visits and also to help out at the clinic as much as we can. It is great training for us as medical students because we get to experience how to make diagnoses without all of the expensive equipment and tests that we are used to relying on. The history and physical exam thus becomes an even more vital aspect of medicine here, and we get to work on our skills. It is also great training for those of us interested in global health and in providing medical care to underserved populations. The clinic here was built by the community, funded by Shoulder to Shoulder. Decisions are made by a health committee here, epitomizing the concept of community oriented primary care.
    In the afternoon, a group of us took a walk with two of the translators in clinic, who showed us around parts of the town. The views in every direction are absolutely beautiful. We met a hammock maker who twists his own twine and weaves hammocks of beautiful colors and patterns. After dinner, we had some time to reflect on our day to read and to play cards.
    Tomorrow, there will be yoga and/or jogging groups in the morning for people who are interested, and then I am looking forward to another day working in clinic!

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Shed some light in San Jose?

A new group of 22 people arrived in San Jose today for a 2 week medical brigade. Travel was pretty uneventful, except for trying to get 42 checked bags out of San Pedro Sula airport wihtout leaving anything...or anyone, behind.

Sunny and mid-nineties until we arrivedin San Jose....up here it's been raining of and on and the air temperature is a pleasant 70 degrees.

it's been about three years since I was last here and there have been so many changes! On my last visit the clinic building was nothing more than holes in the ground for a foundation, clearning rubble to make space for the building to be.

The new clinic is just amazing. It's spacious, clean and pleasant inside. All the floors are tile and easily cleaned. It's spotless inside adn very comfortable feelign for patients to be seen, whether medical, dental or OB/Gyn.

The breezeway in the middle of the building provides a cool draft while patients and families wait to be seen. I'm speechless at how much progress has been made. the entire clinic area has solar paneling and a bank of batteries to store enough power to run lights in the clinic, a refridgerator and a computer, all without the generator

But the most amazing thing that has changed is ... are you ready for it? There are streetlights in San Jose! STREET LIGHTS! The electricity comes up the mountain from El Progresso and the lights go almost to the middle of the town. But so far, none of the residents has lighting...no one can afford to get the electricity to their houses.

RIght now a little boy, David, is watching me type this, he is fascinated with teh iPad machine. He said he can't read though and that makes me sad. Well it's been along day and tomorrow will come soon. Buenes Noches

Friday, April 16, 2010

San Jose --April 16, 2010

Hello from San Jose-

Although we now have easier access to the internet, we are sending large groups on our daily away trips and then forgetting to Blog. It is hot and only one day with rain for about 20 minutes. Clinic sees about 30-60 patients per day. The Well Child Visits are seeing 60, 100 and 120 children in the first 3 visits that were made. The group went to Pescadero today and may see as many as 150.

Everyone in our group is healthy and working well together. We all miss our friends and families. See you next weekend.

Diane Balliet RN BSN

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Well-child clinic

Yesterday, a group went to Pescadero, which was about an hour's drive by truck, to do another well-child clinic.  In total, we saw nearly 200 children and perhaps 30-40 adults.  We arrived around nine am and set up the clinic in a small church.  After opening the windows and rearranging the pews, we set out the supplies for registration, height/weight/nutritional status, hemoglobin, vitamins and anti-parasitics, vision charts, fluoride treatments, physical exam, acute concerns, and pharmacy.  And then it began: families of three, four, five, six children under the age of ten, without regular access to any health care.  These children were smaller and sicker than those we've seen in other villages, but they came and waited patiently for several hours to be seen by our team, to receive vitamins, antiparasitics, and a dental treatment.  I stuck nearly 200 little fingers to check their hemoglobin; there were several stoic little two- and three-year-olds who came and sat down next to me, stuck out a finger without being asked, and had looks of sheer determination that melted into grins when I said, "Que valor!  Eres muy fuerte!" 

Anne Lincoln, MS-3 

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Child Health Initiative

Yesterday a team went to 2 different villages and began our new child health initiative.  They saw 100 children and youth.  It was a success.  Today is Father's Day in Honduras and there was a parade.  Folks are now attending a festival in town.
Diane Balliet 
March 19, 2009