There are so many thoughts, so many gratitudes, so much to say! I will begin with the numbers:
First and foremost is Matt Riley. He spent countless hours putting wear and tear on his car driving the four hours from his home in Iloilo to our host city of Culasi in order to make this mission possible. Bringing multiple entities together, he never faltered in his commitment or vision of what was possible. I don't think we can ever adequatly thank you, Matt!
Prior to our departure, two organizations deserve recognition for their support of our work:
Direct Relief International sent us, on very short notice, almost 500 pounds of medications to be used for our work, a value of $142,000. An average of 125 prescriptions were filled on a daily basis. Asthma, cellulits, bronchitis, pneumonia and a myriad of other health problems were treated because of these medications. DRI has been very support of our missions in the past but have never had to get supplies to us with such short notice. Thank you DRI and Kayla McCarthy for your support.
In the planning stages, Matt met with the Mayor of Culasi, Joel Lomugdang, who provided us his support before and during the mission. His Tourism Officer, John-John Sumanting checked with us frequently to make sure we had everything we needed.
One volunteer, Nikki Tamayo, spent the entire two weeks with us. She translated, worked in the pharmacy and as a dental assistant. Her home was destroyed in the typhoon and now she and her family of four are living in a single room hut. She was with us everyday, without fail. She is also case managing the patients that required more care after we left. Thank you Nikki!
There were so many other who became part of our team and, in turn, friends: Joy Reyes, Maria Reyes, Jules Labrador and Nene Hazel, RN. Dr. Aguirre, medical director of the Culasi District Hospital spent a couple of days with us and Dr. Babayion of the Health District not only worked with us for five days but brought staff and pharmaceutical supplies. Thank you!
We saw 1903 patients over the course of eight days. We referred some on for cataract surgery, others to the hospital for lab work or xrays and several young children into the health care system for more medical attention. We gave away over $147,000 in medications and $2,000 in supplies.
No team works alone, there were a lot of people working behind the scenes to make sure we had a succesful mission:
The second organization, MedShare, has also been a long-time supporter of our work. With our trip to the post-hurricane Philippines, however, they tolerated our multiple trips to the warehouse to "go shopping" and waived their donation fee in support of our relief efforts. We not only treated multiple skin and wound issues but we were able to send patients home with enough supplies to continue treatment at home. Thank you Medshare and Shannon Kuehnel!
Matt also met with the local barangay captains to organize dates, work sites and to co-ordinate team needs. The barangays provided us with health care workers who registered and triaged the patients. Each barangay also provided us with snacks and lunch, a wonderful treat. Any thoughts of losing weight were quickly forgotten as we were treated to a myriad of incredibly tasty, wonderful, local foods. Thank you to the barangay captains, health care teams, cooks and to those that set up for us!
Thank you Rose Orcajada for inviting us into your home. You housed us when a hotel was physically unsafe and fed us without any hesitation. Your door was always open and your generosity greatly appreciated. You made us feel like we were Culasians! Thank you!
And to the US-based members of our team: Pacita Aducayen, MD, Rochelle de la Rosario, MD, Lynn Farizell, RN, Connie Flores, PharmD, Aileen Hayes, RN, Anne Hayes, EMT, Gerald Jeffries, DDS, Ed Pangilinan, Christine Smith, FNP, Kay Yamagata, PharmD: You took time off from work, left families and jobs, paid for your own airfare, housing and food so that financial resources could be spent treating the poor. Thank you for your service.