This year's Multi-Specialty Mission Trip is located in the remote area of Coroico, Bolivia. Because the team has very limited internet access, it is not possible for our mission trip blog to be updated as often as usual. Here are the journal entries from the first 3 days in Coroico. We hope we will be able to publish more blog entries soon! The mission trip is going great!! This journal was written by a first time missioner, Cid
Welcome to Coroico!
Wow – planes, trains and automobiles! We flew from the Miami airport on a very crowded plane where every seat was occupied for the seven hour flight. We arrived into LaPaz at 5:10am, assembled our team and organized the 40 suitcases of medical supplies. The bus to Coroico was full of our sleep deprived missioners, our luggage, and the strong smell of fumes from the fuel. We arrived at the hotel by noon, our sleeping rooms were efficiently assigned and we immediately retreated to quickly refresh after the long trip. Then off to the hospital!
The first meeting at the Hospital Universario Yungas in Coroico was very warm and welcoming. Our team
met the clinical and administrative staff, received the room assignments for cardiology, dermatology, neurology, and gynecology clinics and toured the surgical area. Soon after, we eagerly unpacked our medical supplies and organized our various work areas.
In the evening we retreated to our hotel and took time to reflect on our purpose and catch our breath. Then, we officially kicked off our mission trip with a beautiful candle lighting service in which Padre Robert led us in prayer, encouraging us to be light to this community.
The mission team arose to our first full day in Coroico, ready to support the local community, hospital and clinical staffs. After a quick breakfast, we departed on foot and a few by auto. The walk from the hotel to the hospital is ½ mile, which does not sound like a big hike. However, it is 90% uphill and the lack of sidewalks along with cobblestone streets results in a good workout. Stamina and good shoes are a necessity! The first morning presented many opportunities to treat, consult, and screen patients and schedule surgeries and procedures to improve the health of the people of Coroico.
Dr. Jay Hermann and Dr. Ted Conrad are the dermatology dynamic duo. Together, they saw 40 patients and performed several minor surgeries on this first day.
Our general surgeon, Dr. Tim Van Natta, assisted a patient who had a stab wound in the back. Fortunately, the patient did not have a collapsed lung or internal bleeding as feared, but other serious conditions were apparent. After the patient was stabilized, he was able to be transferred to LaPaz for further care. Dr. Tim has already performed hernia repairs and gall bladder removals this first day.
We saw an abundance of patients for neurology and cardiology consults. Dr. Nancy Streitmatter and Dr. John Oldershaw each met with 16 patients.
The 4 doctors representing gynecology had two procedures this afternoon They identified a patient needing a DNC and, late in the day, they performed an emergency C-Section. The joy of delivering a new life into the community of Coroico is a blessed way to start our week.
In the evening, we united for a quick dinner and then were off to our rooms to catch some much needed rest.
Padre Robert runs a tight schedule as we have reflections and prayer at 6:15am. If only the roosters understood time and could awaken us at 5:30 versus 2:15! The roosters are like some newborns, the days and nights are mixed up!
A successful and fulfilling day one!
October 1, 2011
Praise to God…those were the first words we heard to start our day! With the full team in attendance, Padre Robert led us in reflections and prayer at 6:15am. The translator who is working with the gynecological team made a petition that the dignity of all women be honored. As an American female, I am struck by the subservient culture and limited opportunities offered to women. We are blessed to have the privileges of life choices and health, women and men. Lord, hear our prayers!
Today is the first full day of the Festival of St. Michael in the town of Coroico. The main celebration is taking place directly across the road from the hospital and the live bands and a festive vibe are heard and felt by all of us. The festival march began last evening. As we were walking back to the hotel, we saw costumes, cars decorated for the parade and abundant smiles. The revelers have 3 days of celebrating, with music and dancing and plentiful food. The festival will close with a mass.
The clinic and surgery schedules ran smoothly for Saturday and Sunday. The translators have related to the rest of us some of the incredible stories of the patient’s journeys and their suffering over extended time. In the US, going to a clinic or the emergency room for care at the onset of a health issue is a way of life. In Coroico, the distance and the lack of both transportation and the ability to pay for care means that many do not seek medical help till their disease is far advanced.
One of our patients needed surgery for uterine prolapse. The Bolivian doctors and students watched and learned as our doctors successfully completed the complex procedure. Multiple hernia repairs were performed in operating room #2. Dr. Tim had a dual case consisting of a hernia repair and the removal of a large growth under a woman’s arm that caused pain and would not allow her to lower her arm down to her waist.
Another very successful day!