Jessica’s blog

Jessica Myers is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in Denver, Colorado. Her and her son Jack went to work a week in Camotan Clinic in late June to early July. This is her blog. Enjoy! And thank you for reading!

Our journey began early the morning of 6/27/21. Steve Stahl, MD, Jessica Meyers, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and her 11 year old son Jack Meyers headed to Guatemala. Steve and Jessica were last in Camotan in January of 2020 and have been anxious and excited to return. This trip was Jack’s first time out of the country. He has always had a heart for those in need and has expressed interest in joining His mom since a young age. This year he was ready and excited. His passport arrived the day before departure. We arrived in Guatemala City and met up with Dr. Jovita, 2 of her sisters and Jose, our driver. We had a smooth 5 hour drive to Camotan.
Dr. Jovita’s incredible efforts in carrying out the mission of the Camotan clinic have been evident throughout the pandemic. She has faithfully traveled to the clinic and surrounding mountain villages every few weeks and is always integrating new and better ways to help the poorest people in her beloved country. We experienced many emotions  as we opened up the Clinic the next morning. While it was so wonderful to reunite with our Guatemalan friends it was also evident that things have changed. Covid and the hurricanes have devastated access to many resources. The food supply has been greatly disrupted, crops were destroyed and the access to medical care has been virtually impossible. Most of the illness we saw was directly related to hunger.

We had a busy first day in the clinic. Jessica was able to see a patient she had seen last January and confirm that he is growing well and show his mother his progress on the growth chart that has been kept for the past 2 years.  Steve was able to see many adult patients and help teach Karen (Jovita’s sister and MD in training).  Jack stayed busy preparing for our visits to the mountain villages by filling 40 bags of donated clothes and pots / pans for specific families that the clinic had identified as those in most extreme need. There was a photo of each family so he could personalize the bags. He enjoyed adding some of the little toys he had brought for the kids and decorating the bags. Tuesday was also spent in the clinic. Jessica was able to initiate growth charts and set up treatment plans for several malnourished kids.  She also treated an ill child with pneumonia and wheezing. He improved after steroids and albuterol treatments. Steve was able to identify a woman with severe heart failure and unregulated Afib. He initiated medication and set up follow-up for later in the week to make sure her heart rate was coming down. She was so short of breath that we had to drive her back to her house at the end of the clinic. Jack was able to play soccer and matchbox cars with the kids while they waited to be seen. He also got to ride in the back of a pick-up truck (one of the highlights of his trip). 
Wednesday Steve stayed at the clinic and was very busy with over 30 patients. Jessica and Jack joined some of the Camotan clinic staff to distribute food to 2 different mountain communities. For an 11 year old who has never left America this was a life – altering  experience that both changed and broke his heart in the best way.  Jessica was able to return to the home of a family who had become very special to her and the clinic.  The single mother has 3 children with severe special needs. They are unable to walk or talk and the mother performs all of their daily care. 2 of the children have many seizures every day. 18 mo ago we were able to initiate treatment that mom felt was helping. We refilled the medications and set up plans for the nurses at the clinic to return and check on the children in the next few weeks. We also checked on the women in heart failure that Dr. Joel had seen and treated during his recent trip Sadly she had passed away 8 days ago. The medication he was able to provide gave the patient more time with her family and for that they were so grateful. Death is common in this part of the world and often preventable with more access to health care and that is the ultimate vision of the clinic. Thursday Jessica visited another mountain village and delivered food and performed several home medical visits to some of the children who are unable to get to the clinic. Steve stayed in the clinic and was able to follow-up with some of his more seriously ill patients from earlier in the week. The women with uncontrolled Afib had an improved heart rate as a result of his treatment. Dr. Jovita put Jack to work. -cleaning the clinic, packaging pills, and organizing supplies. He was also able to set up the baseball equipment he brought  to donate to the clinic and taught some sweet kids how to play ball. Friday we traveled back to Guatemala City and had a few hours to explore the plaza. After many delays Our flight was eventually cancelled and we ended up staying an extra night at a nice hotel the airlines provided and had smooth travels home the next day. 
The problems in Guatemala are vast and Covid is still very prevalent. The Camotan clinic is working hard to partner with the community and re established programs to provide better access to food, shelter, health education, medications and consistent health care.  Every living soul deserves access to those things and while reaching everyone may not be possible, there will continue to be tireless efforts to that aim. 
Jack’s reflections: My trip was great. It has provided me with experiences I’ll never forget. Such as riding on a tuk tuk and handing out food at the mountain villages and having Coke at 9:00 in the morning. Some of the things that happened were sad. It was sad to see how many people were hungry and families with no medication.  When I get home it’s gonna be crazy seeing how big a Target actually is and brushing my teeth with tap water.  I thought it was really fun to do something new. I got to play with so many kids and teach them baseball. They were pretty good.It was a great trip and I’m very excited to return” — 

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