Susan Dean Shares Impressions From Guatemala

Susan Dean is a nurse manager at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center.  She’s currently in Antigua, Guatemala, as part of a medical team with Faith In Practice, a nonprofit organization that provides continuity of medical care to the poorest of Guatemala. This is Susan’s fifth consecutive year serving on a Faith In Practice surgical mission.  She sent along this dispatch. We’ll publish subsequent dispatches as she has time to send them.

May 1, 2011
The team arrived safely in Antigua, Guatemala … some from the Bay Area, others from Chicago, Oregon, and Ohio.  Seven are from Kaiser Permanente! All of us are looking forward to doing a lot of cases.  The expectation is to do 80 cases this week…plastic, gynecology, and general.

Lots of children were in the triage area, some for hernias and others for clefts.  We heard a very interesting presentation by a man named Jose from Faith In Practice. Jose was a patient found by a village team and brought in for surgery.  He’s so grateful for the care he received that he spoke with some of the FIP team and ended up working for FIP as an assistant to the Obras director.

We spoke about why some of us are here.  We are grateful how the patients trust us; we feel privileged to be able to come and care for them. We are all traveling out of our comfort zone and feel an obligation.  It is a privilege to come to Guatemala and participate in this mission.

Our intent is to bring the same high quality of care that we give at home, here — just in a different setting. We will be doing time outs and debriefing just like we do at home. Patients are checked and double checked.  Lab work is checked.

But it’s definitely different than home. More than 75 percent lives in poverty here, making $2 a day.  The infant mortality rate is 25 per 1,000 in Guatemala; in the United States it is 6 per 1,000.

Faith In Practice expects to serve 25,000 patients in 2011. That care will be delivered for 16 weeks by FIP personnel; for the rest of the year, it’ll be delivered by volunteers like us from around the world.

Here’s a photo gallery for our team.

Take care,

Susan Dean
Nurse Manager,  APC1, APC3 and HIV/AIDS Module
Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center


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