Mobile Medical Clinic Report
July 23-28, 2003
|Participants: George Glenn, MD, Mike Kelly, MD, Phil Tobin, P.A.; Randy Campbell, DDS, Phil Stewart, DDS; nurses Jennifer Jasik, Karen Reyes, and Jenny Searcy; pharmacist Larry Owens, chaplain Jerry Hill, translators Pat Hile, Julie Kelly, Jesus Lopez, Andrew McCormick, Rob Smith; electrical engineer Don Thompson; sonogram educator David Tomberlin; and others: Reese Campbell, Amy Eichman, Russell Glenn, Jimmie Harper, Jennifer Jones, Ryan Kirk, Susie Pursch, Erin Pyles, Kirby Tomberlin, Marie Agee, and Rick Harper. Chantel Ervin and Aubry Benevante, who now lives in Guatemala, were there to help with translation, as well.
Because the team numbered 28 people, we divided daily into two groups and shuffled the makeup of each group every day so anyone who wanted to was able to work with as many different people as possible. We had several parent/child pairs, so they were able to share this special experience with each other. By the end of the final day of clinic, we had treated approximately 626 medical and dental patients.
We held clinic in La Ceiba and Pazité on Thursday, Montellano and Samayac on Friday and Las Flores and San Franciso on Saturday. La Ceiba and Pazité are Mayan Indian villages where the people dress in the cultural way of the Maya. The other villages were a mixture of both Maya and ladino. We saw many patients with problems typical of any group: upper respiratory infections, arthritis pain, and parasites. Several patients came in with problems that will require surgery to fix them. Dr. Sergio Castillo kept adding to his running list of surgery patients.
David Tomberlin had donated a sonogram to the ministry and had come down, along with his daughter Kirby, to teach the Guatemalan staff how to use it. He brought a portable unit with him to take to clinic each day. The Guatemalan doctors were so excited to have access to a sonogram and eagerly listened during the training sessions. They were even more excited during the clinics when they were actually able to put it to good use in examining pregnant patients! We had needed and wanted a sonogram for a long time, so it was especially gratifying to finally have one. Thanks, David!
The three dentists, Drs. Phil Stewart, Randy Campbell and Silvia Albizures pulled lots of teeth. The Mayan children are always the most amazing because most of them climb up into our homemade, portable plywood dental “chairs” like they’ve been doing it all their lives. They open their mouths without a word and quietly endure the shots and the extractions. There were those occasional screamers that provided a little excitement! Speaking of excitement, we had our sharing just watching people get into and out of the portable dental chairs! The chairs are homemade, put together sort of like Legos, and old enough that they are evidently becoming unstable. On a few occasions they wiggled and waggled enough to make the patient think he was going to be tossed into the floor! No one was ever hurt, and despite the language barrier, we were all able to share a laugh together about it.
On Saturday the dentists working in Las Flores moved their entire clinic outdoors to the shaded, covered “veranda” of the elementary school where we worked. There was at least a breeze there that wasn’t at all present inside the tin-roofed room they had been in. The rest of the day was much more pleasant after that.
On Friday Dr. Silvia Albizures could barely contain her excitement as Don Thompson worked at Clinica Ezell in Montellano to install the new dental x-ray unit that was included in the container that was waiting in Guatemalan customs to be released. Don had had the forethought to bring the control unit down with him and was, therefore, able to go forward with the bulk of the work despite the fact that the x-ray itself wasn’t there yet. He showed Silvia and Baldimar how to install the x-ray arm when it did finally arrive. Dr. Silvia has needed a dental x-ray unit for so long. This one came from the generosity of Dr. Mark Whitfield in Nashville, Tennessee. Thanks, Don and Dr. Mark!
On the first day of clinic at La Ceiba we had a little excitement with the team chaplain, Jerry Hill. Being fluent in Spanish, Jerry was going about doing what Jerry does best, teaching about Jesus. In this case, he had been standing out in the hot sun for quite some time talking animatedly with a couple of men. All of a sudden, he passed out! Fortunately, the men caught him and laid him carefully down. It scared us all to death, but after resting in the shade for quite a while, he seemed to recover nicely and the rest of his time with us was uneventful, which is how we like it! That is, except for his thoughtful devotionals, which were very meaningful. Jerry had been a missionary to Guatemala for eighteen years back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, so he was particularly excited about coming back to Guatemala, and the team was excited to hear him speak of the history of the church in Guatemala. Jerry had brought with him several people from his church in Pleasanton, Texas, so we were privileged to get to know and work with them, as well.
Not only did we have Jerry Hill on the team, but we were blessed also to have Dr. Mike and Julie Kelly and Pat Hile, all former missionaries to Guatemala. We felt we were sitting at the feet of Gamael, just being in their presence, watching them work, and listening to their stories. It was incredibly meaningful to everyone.
On Sunday we attend worship services at the Antigua Church of Christ then spent the afternoon and evening enjoying Antigua. We stayed at the Don Rodrigo Hotel, the oldest and most historic hotel in Central America they say. It was lovely, but the night was too short. We had to arise well before dawn to drive into Guatemala City to catch our flight home. We may have had to leave Guatemala, but we carried her memory with us.