Our August team from the US had a great work week as we worked alongside our Camotan Clinic staff. Our new resident physician Dr. Jeffrey Meija already had been working in the clinic for the previous couple of weeks when we arrived. We love working alongside our Guatemalan doctors and dentists during their training. It is an excellent opportunity to teach, learn and collaborate with residents who are learning their practice.
We keep track of patients over a large area who have needs. Often this involves going to where they live: to their hut or home to check in on them. Below Dr. Strohecker reviews an old CT scan on a patient living in the mountains. The patient had a scan of his brain taken years ago for his seizure disorder. He continues to remain disabled living in his hut. Camotan Clinic will be repeating his scan and getting more lab work on him and we will take over his care as no one has been following him. He lives almost 2 hours by car to the nearest hospital and he is too disabled to easily get himself to Camotan Clinic. So we go to him. And we go to other patients like him who need care but cannot easily get it. It is for this reason that we exist: to do the hard work of reaching the neediest patients.
Our mobile clinics during our work week were near the Honduras border. It is incredibly remote country with thick jungle and only a few dirt roads connecting villages. We often see people who have come from areas in Honduras and beyond for medical care. Below you can see our dentist (and one of our former dental residents!) Dr. Karen Wong performing dental care in a remote school house on the Honduras border. As you can see, we do our best to improvise in these settings. The school house was the only building with electricity (but it had no running water) and a relatively clean space in the area. We use these buildings in coordination with the government and local health department to bring care that would otherwise not be available to these people.
One of the nice things we can do for Camotan is help support the medical center that is already there. The government has medical centers (clinics) in many small villages in Guatemala called “Centros de Salud”; literally “health centers” in English. Camotan is no different. Here you can see the Centro director Dr. Joel Arayo in Camotan’s Centro de Salud. These small clinics run on a very tight and limited budget. Camotan Clinic is less than a 3 blocks away from the Centro de Salud of Camotan and we all work together. The Centro has a lot of data that we use. They know how many people have malaria, HIV or Tuberculosis in the whole region. They have access to vaccines and work very hard to vaccinate all of the children in the mountains where we work. The vaccine program is something we are very thankful for; without this comprehensive program, so many children would be ill from preventable diseases.
The Centro however is often short on many things. In the picture below you can see our donation of amoxicillin to the Centro. We help supply the Centro with hard to get medicines or supplies. Sometimes they just need gloves. Whatever we can do to help them we do. The Centro de Salud also has no dental care for the people around Camotan so our dental services are always in high demand.
So as we have often written here, collaboration is imperative when working in such remote, poor places. We have much to offer the Centro de Salud in Camotan as far as supplies go. They however know the lay of the land and we learn much from them about where the needs are in all the mountains surrounding Camotan.
This map above hangs in Camotan clinic. As you can see, we keep track of the villages all around Camotan, marking which ones we have visited and when we need to go again. As we grow more, it is our goal to get to know all the “aldeas” or communities high in these mountains. It all starts as we are doing now: building relationships, learning where the people are and what their needs are.
None of this would be possible without your support. People like you keep us growing and make our outreach more impactful each month. So thank you to all of you again who think of us, pray for us and support us. We could never do this without you. Thank you for reading!