HEALTH TALENTS INTERNATIONAL
Surgical Clinica at Clinica Ezell
Montellano, Suchitepequez, Guatemala
January 10-17, 2004

By Marie Agee

Trip Participants: Surgeons Drs. Danny Minor & George Robertson; Anesthesia Dr. Carlos Patiño, and Eddie Milam, CRNA; Family Prac: Dr. Lisa Dunham; Surg Tech Scott Fisher, Nurses: Nancy Carlisle, Elaine Fischer, Judy Gardner, Martha Oyston, and Bonnie Spink; Med Tech Linda Robertson; Translators: Kemmel Dunham and Leonor Patiño; Sterilization crew: Tommy Carlisle, Leslie Minor, Jerry and Karen Carpenter; Dentists: Drs. Mark Whitefield, Tommy Nabors and Mitch Tatum. And Marie Agee and Rick Harper. There were only five newcomers. All the rest were seasoned vets!

As on the last trip, everyone arrived on time with no travel complications, AND every bit of our luggage made it to Guatemala without a hitch. What a bonus! As usual, we spent the night at Seteca and arose early to drive up to Clinica Ezell. After eating the breakfast that was waiting for us, we unpacked the supplies we had brought and organized them a bit, then walked across the road to worship with the Montellano Iglesia de Cristo. It was a bi-lingual service that made everyone feel a bit more a part of the world community of believers.

As this was a general surgery clinic only, we noticed right away that the pace was different. Since we are running only one room most of the time, the pace of recovering patients was much slower than in our general/gyn clinics. We also noticed a marked absence in the amount of pain meds they required, among other things. This was good since we were a bit short on nurses. In fact, we had no scrub nurses on the team, so had improvised throughout the week. Both the surgeons were good natured about it and did what they had to do whenever. They often had to prep the patients themselves, if they couldn’t find someone else willing to do it! Even Rick Harper learned how to prep! And the nurses…what can I say! They were all fabulous with their great attitudes and tremendous experience in these clinics. In fact, among them, they had been on a total of 35-40 trips! What a group!

The dentists arrived on Tuesday night and drove up to the clinic on Wednesday morning. They went out every day with Dr. Silvia Albizures to provide dental care in villages. On Wednesday they went to Xejuyup, where they held clinic in the local Church of Christ. On Thursday they went to Pazite, and on Friday they stayed at Clinica Ezell and worked for half a day before driving into Antigua to join the team that left early that morning. Their total patient count was about 150.

There were several highlights during the week. One was a woman with the largest incisional hernia either of the doctors had ever seen. They also did repeat hernia repair surgery on two men, who had had surgery at Clinica Ezell previously. There were only two children during the week, and they were precious. Both their procedures were quite minor.

As usual, the assistance from the non-medical folks was outstanding. Tommy Carlisle and Leslie Minor kept the sterilized instruments coming, while Jerry Carpenter acted as plumber, carpenter, and whatever else needed doing. Jerry and Karen both washed instruments for the dentists. We were also blessed to have our new medical mission interns assist, as well. Aaron Towler and Zack Self were both very involved throughout the week, as was Aubry Burr.

It really was a different sort of week. Since the pace was slower, we had more time to reflect on and enjoy the experience. We visited the Mayan museum in Chicacao for a bit of diversion. By the end of the week, we had provided surgical care in the name of the Great Physician to 46 people, three or four of whom had double hernias. We are grateful once again for the privilege of serving in this way and for God’s blessings in making it all go well.