Sunday morning we were served a breakfast of quesadillas and frijoles fritos (refried beans). We had a morning devotion and prayer in the garden before leaving for clinic for the day. Not knowing what to expect, and feeling a little anxious, I got into the van with everyone else and Vincente drove us an hour away to the village that we would be having clinic, “Playa Azul” (which by the way, did not include any “blue” or “beach”) of any kind. The drive there was gorgeous and I felt like I was in Ireland (although never having been there—it looks like what I’ve seen in pictures). There was green as far as my eyes could see and so many hills and mountains. Vincente let us know that we were so far south in Mexico that we were in Guatemala for part of our drive.
When we pulled into Playa Azul, there were so many people waiting for us to arrive. They were on the basketball court, the road, and the building where we were going to set up clinic in. I did everything possible to keep from crying as we pulled up as I have never seen people so excited for something that I take advantage of at home: healthcare. There was so much hope in their eyes. It was the most humbling experience of my entire life and is something I will never forget. It’s so hard to put into words, but I know that I don’t necessarily have to because it will be with me forever.
We had plenty of help unloading and quickly set up our stations to get to work. Three provider stations sat in the back of the clinic, a pharmacy on the side, a “privacy room” made of tarps and rope for private exams, a nurses station at the front of the room for intake and initial assessment of vital signs (I quickly learned how to say “Le voy a tomar sus signalos vitals—I’m going to take your vital signs).
The MDP team was able to see 79 patients. It takes so much longer in this setting because the interpreter sits by the provider and communication takes twice as long when you go through a third person. Some patients even needed a second translator, as they spoke a different dialect. The provider would then need Spanish instructions for the medication, which needs to be written out.
I was in shock at how patient everybody was in waiting to be seen. Some waited 7 or 8 hours to be seen, each of them given a number by the clinic organizer and brought in as we had openings.
The community members came for a variety of reasons and were diagnosed with parasites, gastritis, tuberculosis, UTI’s, arthritis, diabetes, and so much more. Some of them were able to be treated, and some unfortunately were not. The providers are so good about diagnosing and treating despite their lack of diagnostic tools available. They had tools for urinalysis, blood glucose checks, fetal heart tones, and pregnancy tests. However, there was of course no ability to do CBCs, imaging, or anything that requires more resources. Padre Miguel is also available to handle referrals, which is so helpful for the continuity of care!
The patients that we saw were so thankful for everything that we did for them. A lot of the patients came through the clinic on their way out, shaking hands with us and thanking us. It was a great first day!