Monday, February 27, 2012

DOCARE 2012 - Home sweet home

Our travels home on Saturday went very smoothly, and we're all very happy to sleep in our own beds, eat familiar food, and reconnect with friends and loved ones. Most of the trunks have been dropped off at the KCUMB campus, and we're in the process of unpacking them, discarding expired medication, and storing everything else for next year. I just found out that we treated over 3000 patients, which is an astounding number to me.

I took over 2300 photos, and I am in the process of editing them and compiling an online gallery. I will post a link when that process is done, and you will be able to enjoy even more photographs that we did not have the time and space for on this blog. Also, there will be an article in the next KCUMB Communicator magazine, and that is due to go to press in late March/early April.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Donating what's left

We cleaned out our trunks today, and donated the remaining medicine (five trunks worth) to the DO Care clinic about 20 kilometers outside of Antigua. Drs. Ogden, Okulski, McCandless, student Hoa Nguyen and I made the journey.

This will probably be the last post from Guatemala. We leave the hotel tomorrow morning at about 5:30. We all had a great time, but we're also looking forward to a normal schedule and our own beds. Adios from Antigua!


I knew these guys didn't get the soccer bug out of their system. The students were brave enough to challenge the hotel and restaurant staff to a soccer match. The final score was 10 to 5, with the Guatemalans coming out on top. That's actually a respectable score, since they live and breathe soccer down here.

A shout out

This blog is a shout out to all of our students who not only saw patient after patient, day after day in cramped and often dirty spaces but they also lugged around box after box of medical supplies from site to site, never complaining.  It's also a shout out to our student leaders who helped mastermind the trip and who put in a LOT of extra hours and effort preparing all of us for the experience.  The KCUMB student leader was Jaclyn (Jackie) Allred (2nd photo).  The UMKC student leader (3rd photo) was Sarah Beck. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

And the doctor's office is closed...

Today was the final day of seeing patients. No cases stood out to me today, but I as I mentioned in a previous post, the physical limitations of this site made it more difficult. I have been so impressed with the energy, patience, and enthusiasm of everyone on this trip. It's hard to believe that our work is mostly done, but the memories will last a lifetime.

After today's clinic closed, we went to a nearby water park for a Guatemalan lunch, laying in the sun, and for a few of us, a quick dip in the pool. We have one full day left in Guatemala before we head home on Saturday. We'll cram in as much fun as we can for the next 36 hours!

And you thought your place was small.

Our visit to Santa Cararina Barahona was certainly unique. We saw a relatively few number of patients, but it was a very challenging site. The first two photos show patient exam areas. We were crammed in narrow hallways and small rooms. We fit four or five students AND their patients in a room about the size of a typical doctor's exam room in the U.S. The third photo shows the pharmacy. This is an extremely high-traffic area, both in the back part where the medicine is filled, and the front part where it's delivered. Finally, we were split among two floors, with either a very steep staircase, or a very steep ramp to get between floors. That made it difficult especially for those older patients who had trouble walking,

Street scenes

A street concert greeted us upon arrival today. I'm not sure if it was specifically for us, but it was a great welcome. The music was awesome, but unfortunately we had to ask them quit, or at least turn down the volume, because our students could not hear anything through their stethoscopes.

Later that morning, I headed across the street to a tortilla "factory." I watched them make handmade tortillas on the spot. Just outside their shop I spotted this customer along with her two kids waiting for their order.


To my friends who are still in Guatemala...the re-introduction into life in the U.S. will be easy in some ways (like putting your head on your own pillow for a quiet night's sleep) and difficult in others (like finding yourself daydreaming, reflecting on your experiences which will seem somewhat like a dream).  I'm realizing that there were definitely some things that will stick with me forever and I'd love to hear from you about what you'll remember forever.  The top two images are seared in my mind...the day when we turned that last corner of our 3-hour drive and all gasped at once when we saw the crowd eagerly waiting for us.  The bright colors and the bright smiles will be another long-lasting memory.  Cortney and I look forward to gathering and sharing our students' perspectives on the trip and we'll do so in a variety of ways so thanks to all of you in advance!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Eyes wide open

1... Some our students like to try on the eye wear during lulls in the day.

2... The way the sunlight filtered through this guy's hat caught my eye from across the courtyard, and I raced closer to get a photo before the moment passed.

3... This situation struck me as humorous - a med student playing with numbers while sitting at a table and chair designed for kindergartners (he's actually organizing the patient numbers that a handed out to pharmacy patients).

Daily cute kids installment

MInor surgery

I always like to highlight special medical procedures that we do in these clinics. Today a boy was complaining about a cyst on his leg, and we decided to take it off. Ren did the procedure while Dr. Desai guided him, and a Las Vegas student and the boy's mother observed. It was sort of a makeshift operating room. It was a small interior storage space with not much light, so Ren wore a headlamp. They sterilized and covered the top of a teacher's desk, and the boy laid on top of it. Ren first injected it to deaden the pain, then sliced it open, took it out, and stitched it up. The boy was quite a trooper, and very happy to be rid of that thing.

Of course, most screenings were quite routine, and we did about the normal number today, around 350.

Morning traffic

I bet you didn't see anything like this on your morning commute! We had to wait for a little bit for the goats to pass till we could pass the street. Just another typical morning in Guatemala. When we arrived in San Juan Alotenango, while the students unloaded the trunks, Dr. Desai, Dr. McCandless, and I met the mayor of the city and his delegation in his office. He thanked us for our efforts, then sent us along so we could get to work!

Four groups working as 1

Several posts ago, Cortney mentioned that in addition to our amazing, wonderful students and faculty, we've had three other wonderful groups join us on our journey in Guatemala this year.  From top to bottom, those groups include:  University of North Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, UMKC and Touro University Nevada College of Osteopathic Medicine and School of Physician Assistant Studies.  From Day 1, we were all one big happy group working together like we had known each other for years.  That coordination and shared respect is a key in maximizing the number of patients seen and by my count, that total number has to be somewhere over 2,300.  Wow!  What an impact!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


The light patient load today allowed us to knock off a little early, and we were treated to a special dinner and evening out by Acidico, the Guatemalan organization that helps guide our efforts on our DO Care missions. They largely determine which communities we will visit, and they make sure that the facilities we use are prepared for our arrival. They also help procure supplies and equipment that we cannot bring with us from the United States, like the wheelchairs that we gave away yesterday.

Essentially, Acidico is a cultural foundation that helps provide health care and education to the poorest people of Guatemala. Tonight they recognized our efforts with a delicious traditional Guatemalan meal, and we returned the favor with a monetary donation collected from individuals on this trip. I don’t have the total amount raised as of the time of this blog post, but many of us donated at least $10. I will find out later and let you know.

Before dinner we had a chance to just relax and read a book or sip a beverage. Many of us participated in a pick-up soccer game, and WOW, these guys are competitive! We weren’t able to finish the game before dinner, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the game is continued at some other time and place on this trip (just like Catch Phrase on the bus).

People watching

If there's a break in the action inside the screening rooms, then I often step outside and observe the people waiting in line, or those passing by on the street. I can't get tired of the bright, colorful clothing that everyone wears.

Back to the hills

Once again we went up into the mountains, to Comolapa. This trip wasn't nearly as long and arduous as our last venture to this part of the country, but it was still a very rural location that has great need for this kind of service. We saw relatively few patients (just over 200), but those that showed up really needed us.

Monday, February 20, 2012

More cute kids

Here's another DO Care blog staple of cute kid photos...

New sets of wheels

We had two special cases today of wheelchair-bound patients who, until today, did not actually have a suitable wheelchair, if they had one at all. The first case was a woman who had a contraption that was a wooden seat bound to a wheelbarrow. The other was a man who has Elephantitis in his left leg, and he had no way to get around other than to be carried. Both are thrilled with their new means of transportation.