There are still so many thoughts, sounds, sites and tastes running through my mind I find it hard to sit down to summarize.
The dust of the barrios mingling with the fresh cebiche of Pucusana, the shy smile of a woman seeing her baby on the ultrasound screen and seeing a man become tearful because he can work with his hands after being fitted with a pair of $2 reading glasses. Medical students working with us and learning about medicine while teaching us far more about their country than a semester of Peruvian history ever could. Nurse Practitioner students working tenuously at first, then, with confidence gaining, seeing and treating patients at a level they themselves were not expecting.
Watching a new Peruvian dentist working on children and not once did he cause a child to cry out, the linguistic acrobatics of the translators as they build bridges between practitioners and patients, our pharmacy team working out the hieroglyphics of a doctor's handwriting, deciphering an alien pharmaceutical code for the prescriptions then labeling the meds in a language they do not understand. So much to remember!
Somehow, we finished. We finished strong and in good humor. It was two weeks of many challenges, limited resources and a greater understanding of what the poor in Peru are up against when it comes to receiving medical care. We had team members fall ill, succumb to bed bugs and, more often than not, face the challenges of cold showers.
During our 11 days, we had 2097 patient contacts: 1511 medical patients, 325 glasses were handed out, 199 dental patients received teeth cleaning and/or fluoridation, 62 ultrasounds were done and 11 women referred to a psychiatrist who joined us for a couple of days to offer resources for domestic violence.
This is about 2/3 of the numbers we saw our first year but the patients this year were sicker, needed more care, more attention, more medication. We were able to give nebulizer treatments for asthmatics, splint arms that had been injured but unattended, in one case started an IV on a woman with a blood sugar greater than 600-so high our machine would not read it! We also paid for patients to receive lab work and in several cases, provided funding for echocardiograms and follow-up care to a cardiologist.
With the Knights of Columbus' generous donation of an ultrasound probe that plugs into a laptop computer, our ultrasonographer performed 62 ultrasounds. Based on a solid diagnosis instead of a best guess, patients were educated and a couple of others referred into the health care system for follow-up.
No mission trip works in isolation and often, when word gets out, others want to help. As one volunteer asked, "Where do these people come from?"
There are so many that helped us on our journey that I want to send our deepest gratitude to: Las Hermanas Misioneras de Ntra. Sra. Del Perpetuo Socorro who hosted us in the Municpalidad de Ate Vitarte, Natalia Majoriovich for acting as our liaison with the Sisters, Knights of Columbus #3265 of Holy Rosary, Help the World See with parishioner Adrian Tarakis, all the Holy Rosary parishioners and friends of HRIMM who dug into their hearts, pockets and prayers on our behalf, VIDA USA and VIDA Peru for their assistance with customs, to the Sisters themselves, Carmen, Libby, Anita and Pati for their generous support and bringing us communion everyday, Adam and Anne Maria See who provided us with emergency resources, should we have needed them while in Peru, the Municipality of Ate for their support, transportation and manpower, the villages of Ancon and Pucusana and to Marcia Torres, mother of parishioner Diego Torres, for opening her home to such a large group in Pucusana.
And as for the the US based volunteers? Well done, folks, well done!
Millie Estrada, Monica Pacherre, Martha Campos-Lopez, Ericka Galvez, Camelot Thompson, Amelia Garneau, Mike Hayes, Jesus Tapia, Tim Mansouri, Rose, Brian and Erin Callister, Joel and Joshua Chiu, Peggy Nelson, Pat and Tom Schwedhelm, Mike Richardson, Chris Balkissoon, Karoline Stenning, Marie Jose Savitzky and Julio Perez.