Guatemala Mobile Medical Clinic (9911)
November 3-8, 1999
submitted by Marie Agee

Participants: Dr. Allen Newton (neonatologist); Dr. Barry Self (pediatrician); Dr. Lucien Simpson (dermatologist); Dr. David Weed (pediatrician); Dr. Jim Haller (dentist); Dr. Robert Lamb (oral surgeon); Wina Taylor (Family Nurse Practitioner); Dave Ellis (pharmacist); Barbara Haller (RN); Calvin Warpula (minister); Rebecca Self, translator; Rob Haller and Donna Lamb (acting dental techs); Valari Wedel and Tricia Simpson (acting eyeglass techs); Shirlie Ellis (pharmacy assistant); and non-medical personnel: Judy Hall, Michael Scott, John Taylor, and Marie Agee. Gary Tabor had to drop out at the last minute because of the serious illness and ultimate death of his father-in-law on Sunday.

The team arrived at 10 p.m. on Wednesday night, more than an hour later than we normally do. We spent the night in Guatemala City then left at 5 a.m. the next morning (after waking up the bus driver!) to go to Chocola. Several of the Guatemala City staff (Marco Diaz, Dr. Walter Sierra, Olga de Meneses, translators Rachel Castillo (Nery's daughter) and Alexandra Campos (Violeta's daughter) and Elena, the new dentist, went with us.

When we arrived at Chocola, a large crowd of patients was awaiting us. Unlike our typical schedule, Sergio had arranged for the first day of this clinic to be at Chocola. Because of the upcoming presidential election that would be held the following Sunday, several political meetings were taking place throughout the day in the surrounding area. Sergio thought that from a security perspective, it would be better if we worked in Chocola. So, after
eating the hearty breakfast that was found waiting for us, clinic began. Despite the fact that it was coffee harvest time, we saw more than 150 patients that day.

One of the priority items for this clinic was for Dr. Robert Lamb to examine the man who had no nose. Robert came prepared to attempt to fashion him an artificial nose that would adhere to his face and give him some semblance of normal appearance. Sergio had found him and asked him to come in. The bad news is that his situation is much worse than we imagined. Half his face was now gone, apparently by cancer. There was nothing Dr. Lamb could do except take a specimen of his facial tissue and bring it back to the States for analysis in order to get a definitive diagnosis. It was really sad.

Drs. Allen Newton and Lucien Simpson decided to work together since neither had ever been to Guatemala before. They laughingly shared with the group that evening about how helpless they felt when their first patient, an elderly woman, entered the room. Here sat a neonatologist and a dermatologist facing a patient complaining of abdominal pain and dizziness! They worked through that, however, and soon felt more comfortable in their
roles as "jungle docs."

Judy Hall from Harriette Shivers' congregation in Roanoke, Virginia, came prepared to work with the kids. Although she spoke no Spanish at all, she jumped right in and began. Aided sometimes by Marco and sometimes by evangelist Emolindo, she taught many classes. Emolindo told the story of Noah with as much enthusiasm as I've ever heard. The children loved it!

Valari Wedel had been on several mobile medical clinics in the past and had always worked in the dental clinic. This time, however, the dental clinic was well covered, so Valari came prepared to be an eyeglass tech. She recruited Trisha Simpson to help her, and they set up an eyeglass dispensary in the pre-op room of the surgery building and went to work. Aided by Violeta's daughter, Alexandra, as translator, they served a good many people
by day's end.

Friday's clinic was held in Montellano. A huge crowd of patients was waiting when we arrived. Both the dental clinic and the eyeglass dispensary sat up outside under the shade trees. The doctors were assigned various working areas in the guard's house and the adjoining warehouse. Sergio preached quite eloquently before clinic began. Throughout the day I noticed Valdimar, the minister of the Chicacao Church of Christ, and Emolinda, quietly talking, studying and praying with patients. By the end of the day, we had seen well
over 200 patients.

In Montellano the docs identified several potential surgery patients: 2 hernia patients, 1 woman in need of a hysterectomy, 2 people with cataracts, and a young man with a large lypoma on his right shoulder blade. Sergio examined him and asked him to go back to Chocola with us at the end of the day so he could remove it that night. The man gladly obliged. One of the doctors also treated a woman who had a large (2-2 ½" diameter) statis ulcer on her ankle. She had several, but that was the largest one. There was
another woman identified as having malaria.

On Saturday we went to Xejuyup for clinic. We entered to find a little boy about 7 years old sobbing. He had been bitten or stung by what looked like a caterpillar. His parents had managed to capture the "assailant" and bring him in as well. After an injection, medicine, and a good dose of tender loving care, the little boy's sobs finally began to subside.

Dr. Weed examined the 2-1/2 month old baby of Diego, one of the health promoters. The baby had been sick for three weeks and was getting worse. Dr. Weed diagnosed pneumonia.

Wina Taylor saw a patient who probably had tuberculosis. Drs. Newton and Simpson saw another person with malaria. One of the most serious patients was a woman who had severe anemia which had possibly been exacerbated by severe bleeding at the birth of her child 5 months before.

After leaving Xejuyup we went back to Chocola, loaded the bus, and took off for Guatemala City. Hugo Fuentes, and Violeta Bran joined us for dinner Saturday evening in the La Estancia restaurant. On Sunday morning we attended church at Zone 11 then had our day in Antigua.

Since Sunday was the presidential election day, we stayed in that night. Despite a low level of anxiety about possible upheaval, the whole event turned out to be quite peaceful.

All in all it was an extremely smooth clinic. Everyone put forth their maximum effort to see the nearly 600 patients treated. They all seemed to enjoy it as well. We are grateful to God for another wonderful clinic.