February was another step forward for us at Camotan Clinic. With the assistance of Dr. Toledo, Camotan Clinic has partnered with University of San Carlos dental school in Guatemala City. We now have our own full time dentist! Until the end of the year, we have a dental resident in his last year of training: Dr. Lester Estrada. Lester is a fully licensed dentist but by Guatemalan law needs to put in a year of internship practicing before he can start his own private practice. Camotan Clinic is his chosen location for that. He lives at the clinic during the week and works Monday through Friday.
Here is Dr. Estrada working with one of our nurses Hermann.
Dr. Estrada is able to work under University of San Carlos’ dental residency program. Camotan Clinic benefits from his constant presence. The patients in the community and the surrounding mountains get dental care free of charge. There really are no dentists in the area and the need is great.
Meanwhile, February was a continuation of January where we continued to push further and further into the mountains. Far above Camotan, there are numerous villages scattered high in the mountains. If you have read these blogs before, you already know this. But it bears repeating that these villages are why we exist. Some are as close as 2 miles, some are 20 miles from the village of Camotan. There are some dirt roads (very sketchy) leading to these villages. The further from Camotan, the poorer each village is. In years past along with Karios Ministries, we were able to reach some of the closer villages: Tierra Blanca, Marimba, Chiotan. These closer villages have better health, less food insecurity and are generally more well off than those that are further into the mountains. We continue to have good relationships with these villages and other organizations like Servant Ministries and Karios Ministries continue to work hard in these areas.
As we pushed further into the mountains, we have found that people and children are needing food. They need more basic things. The poverty is overwhelming.
One of our nurses, Liz, doing a house call in Cajon del Rio in February. Cajon is a very poor village ~15 miles from Camotan.
Hermann, our other nurse working doing house calls in Cajon del Rio in February.
The only other group reaching these far away villages is the health department of Guatemala. Their resources are sparse and their ability to provide healthcare is very limited. They do send groups up to the mountains to give vaccinations (more on this in the future) to the children. But malnutrition, disease and accidents shorten these peoples’ lifespans greatly. Many times when our teams go to these villages, their primary request is just food.
Meanwhile, Melina Morales, our midwife continued to do her visits with expecting mothers. As you may already know from previous blog posts, she works with the villages above Camotan teaching local midwives (called comadronas) safe delivery practices and gives comprehensive prenatal care. In January she and our team detected a mother with preeclampsia and sent her for emergent delivery in Chiquimula. Both mother and baby are doing well. (Preeclampsia, if not treated urgently, can be deadly for mother and child). Cases like these continue to present themselves and demonstrate the need for more maternal care in these mountains. Melina works with us through a collaboration with Casa Materna and Saving Mothers.
Melina Morales working with a patient in February.
We have been working more and more with the local health department and are creating a partnership with them to reach more of these people. More on this in next month’s blog.
Thank you for reading! And for those of you who have started to donate to Camotan Clinic, thank you so much. 100% of what you donate goes directly to our Guatemala bank account and pays for our staff, rent, medicines and food for the people in the villages. Thank you.