Work has begun in ernest and after just a couple of days, the heat and humidity are taking their toll. Our energy level drains early in the day and after dinner conversations are limited as the volunteers retreat to their rooms to sleep and air conditioning.
I am a little accustomed, but never comfortable, with the outpouring of gratitude from our hosts throughout the years but the Dominican Sisters, Nueva Valencia and Guimaras have really extended themselves in opening their arms to us. From the welcoming sign at the port upon arrival to all the food that is prepared for us and the opening ceremony, we have been treated like royalty, and our work has hardly begun!
The sisters have set up a good patient flow but, as always, what the local entities want to see happen and what our capabilities are simply do not coincide. There are far too many patients that can be seen in 3 days let alone a single day!
As much as we don't like to, we set up a secondary triage and a couple of nurses syphon off the easier patients, evaluate them and if they don't need anything more than medication for simple pain or cold symptoms we treat and street. This allows the doctors to see the heavier patients and the team to see more patients.
We are doing a lot of referrals, about 15 our first day, over 30 our second day. I don't know if it is a cluster, but we referred about 6 patients for chest/neck lumps and masses. Very concerning and is something that needs to be looked at. The other referral issue are pterygiums, blister-like growths on the eyes seen mainly on the fishermen who are out on the water all day contending with the glaring sun.
One of our partners, Direct Relief International happened to have polarized sunglasses and we were able to bring 2 cases with us. Between the referrals for pterygiums removals and the glasses, we are making some fishermen very happy!
Referrals are being handled by Sr. Gemma, sweet, unassuming Sr. Gemma who has the will of a freight train and a web of connections. This will greatly expedite tests at a much lower cost because, after all, who can say no to such a sweet little nun?
We have a REALLY robust dental component this year as well. Dr. Jeffry and Dr. Campos worked hard to bring the best possible care to Guimaras and the set up looks almost like a real dental office! The lounging chairs for patients are a far cry from last year when patients sat on a rocking chair and rocks were placed under the rockers to brace the chair. With them, the dentists also brought a suitcase sized air compressor/suction machine and a cavitor to remove plaque via ultrasound.