News from the Edge

February Newsletter Post – Medical Outreach 2019

Dr. Michael and Nurses (Alicia, Conzuelo, and Miguel)

One of the first big events of the year happened this January, Medical Outreach! From Jan.23rd to 31st, Dr. Michael was in country! 7 communities were visited and 254 patients were seen. 68 chronic patients were seen and 2 new patients were enrolled in the program. On average, 46 patients were seen each day. Providing health care to this many patients, requires an organized and skilled team. Everyone worked well together for the welfare of the patients. The nurses continue to impress with their ability to evaluate and diagnose. Dr. Michael only steps in when assistance is requested from the nurses and they continue to grow through his mentoring. Through this time together, ministering to the physical needs of patients, a few moments especially stand out.

One of these was the addition of two new chronic patients, who received life changing diagnoses. The first patient was a 40-year-old woman from a remote village. For 6 months after her child was born, she had a persistent cough and difficulty breathing, which worsened when there was lots of smoke or cold temperatures. It was a daily struggle. She had been treated various times for pneumonia, but the symptoms kept returning. Nurse Alicia evaluated her and she was diagnosed with Asthma, treated with a twice daily inhaler, and added to the Chronic Patient Program. She had been previously overlooked for adult onset asthma as it isn’t as common.  Hormonal changes as a result of pregnancy and the exposure to large amounts of smoke were likely causes. After such a long time suffering with this condition, she will finally be able to control her symptoms, care for her children, and live life with more ease!

The second patient was a 25-year-old woman from a village close to the Pampacche Health Post. She too had been unwell for 6 months and was diagnosed incorrectly. That all changed when she went to the health post to be seen by Alicia. Alicia took all her symptoms in consideration and tested her blood glucose level. Even though she was young, Alicia didn’t rule out the possibility that she could have Diabetes. She had consistently high blood glucose levels and a diagnosis of Diabetes was made. Recently, Dr. Michael evaluated her, agreed with this diagnosis, and added her to the Chronic Patient Program. She now can have control of her Diabetes through treatment, education, and follow up health care monthly. Her long wait for a diagnosis ended and she will receive lots of support for this serious diagnosis.

Another memorable moment was a surprise patient while travelling to the Providencia Health Post to attend patients there. In a remote area, a man was standing beside a badly crashed vehicle. He was lucky to be alive as he was the front seat passenger in this vehicle that had rolled over. He was talkative and clearheaded, but when he turned around, he had a laceration on his back that had already bleed a lot and was still bleeding. The decision was made to suture the wound right there on the tailgate of the ASOSAP pickup. This good Samaritan act was also a very good teachable moment. Dr. Michael quickly assessed him and shared this assessment method during the nurses’ education session. He also mentored Conzuelo through the suturing of the 8 cm laceration. The nurses also further practiced suturing later on with Dr. Michael. This man received excellent roadside care and the nurses learned a lot as well.

Most times, such as these examples, an acute or chronic illness, can be treated/ controlled and it is a huge blessing to these patients. Other times there is nothing that can be done, but a positive outcome can still come out of the medical consult. One day, a mother brought her 4-year-old son to be seen. The mother explained that when he was 1, he contracted an unknown infection and had a fever that lasted a month. He had been developing normally up until that point, walking and talking as expected for his age. After this, he no longer was able to walk and barely could talk. His development stopped.  Unfortunately, the damage that the infection caused was now permanent and nothing could be done. The mother was hoping for a miracle treatment to cure her child, but in anywhere in the world, nothing could be done. The child was happy, smiling, well-cared for, and repeated the occasional word that his mom said. The mother was doing an excellent job in caring for him. What could be done in that case was to encourage the mother to continue with this wonderful job that she is doing. Also to inform her that unfortunately nothing could be done and not to spend money going to specialist to specialist seeking treatment that doesn’t exist. She was sad at first, but grateful for the honesty and encouragement. It may not have been the answer she was looking for, but she did leave knowing that she was doing the very best for her child. ASOSAP will also look into obtaining a wheelchair for him to improve quality of life for him and his mother.

Every medical outreach, there are opportunities to serve the Pokomchi people and make a positive effect in their lives. We cover this time with prayer and God is faithful to give the needed knowledge and energy to care for them well. The next medical outreach goes from end of July to beginning of August. Please join us in praying for this time!