Tag Archives: Guatemala

The End of the Mission to Guatemala

Susan Dean, RN, 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 seventh consecutive year serving on a Faith In Practice surgical mission.

The surgeries have been completed.  Seventy-nine patients have been served.  Many lives have changed – especially ours.

We saw 9-year-old Luis on our last day. He’s looking forward to going back home to his village, but his journey is not finished. His nose has been reconstructed, but he still needs more oral surgery at a later date. His speech has not been helped, but his looks have changed. Maybe the bullying will stop.

As for the team, we have reconnected with other people, other cultures, and why we went into the health care field. We looked out for our patients, and we looked out for fellow team members. There was always an offer of help from someone near by.

If you hear of a medical mission trip or a volunteer opportunity that interests you, take the extra moment and check it out. Your life might be changed forever! This team will go again next year. We need OR nurses, Recovery Room nurses, translators, assistant surgeons, and surgeons. This year, the specialties covered were plastics, gynecology, urology, and general. There is always a need for an assistant surgeon with other skills.

Come join us.

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A Growing Number of Surgeries

Susan Dean, RN, 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 seventh consecutive year serving on a Faith In Practice surgical mission.

The days and numbers of procedures continue to grow.  We find that there are more people that need surgeries, which we hope to fulfill.

Some of the happiest patients are a group of four men that all had urological surgeries.  They are all recovering on the same floor and enjoy joking about their foley bags.  They call them

Gordon Haddow, MD, works with a patient in the local hospital.

Gordon Haddow, MD, works with a patient in the local hospital.

their purses, although one called it his suitcase while holding a urine-filled foley bag.

Another patient, Mariana, had a hysterectomy. She reported before surgery that she didn’t care what had to be done or removed. She just wanted to be able to go gather firewood without her insides falling out.

The world down here is very different.  As we check patients in we find that many of them are not able to read or write. In order to get their consent, they’re using their thumb prints as opposed to a signature.

The team performs surgery on an infant with a cleft palette.

The team performs surgery on an infant with a cleft palette.

Also, many patients that we treat are coming from villages that are hours and hours away, so the doctors take this into consideration when deciding on post-op and discharge orders.  Most of these patients will stay in the hospital longer simply because they cannot make the long journey back to their homes. And, in the case of a complication, it would be difficult for them to return to the Obras–or hospital.

The lives of many children are being changed dramatically by surgeries to help their appearance after many previous cleft lip and palate surgeries.  Their parents come to their bedside after surgery and just break down with emotion.  Most of them reported that their kids were being bullied at school because of their appearance.

The mom of Jocelyn, a 14-year old female in for rhinoplasty, while in tears of joy reported that this surgery is just in time for her Quinceanera.

Day One of Our Journey in Guatemala

Susan Dean, RN, 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 seventh consecutive year serving on a Faith In Practice surgical mission.

We are here enjoying the Guatemalan community as well as the community
within our team. Today we served 16 patients. We were able to offer the
same type of quality care they would receive at our own medical centers in the U.S., but the challenges are very different. In the afternoon, all of the
lights went out.

Our urologist, Carlos Felix- Fretes, MD, is here for the first time. He says that this is a humbling experience. “The patients are so grateful and happy.”

Mo Ghotbi, MD, an anesthesiologist on his first medical mission, says, “It has been a wonderful and rewarding experience. I would do this again in a heartbeat. I am already planning on returning this year!”

The patients here are truly resilient, having already experienced so much in a life.  The majority who come in for surgery are most concerned with how they will afford food while they are in the hospital.  Luckily, we are able to ease their concern with the help of Casa de Fe (their version of the Ronald McDonald house here in Guatemala).

Team 365, the Preston surgical team, will continue doing more surgeries today!

Susan Dean, RN, Returns to Guatemala for the Seventh Consecutive Year

Susan Dean, RN, 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 seventh consecutive year serving on a Faith In Practice surgical mission; last Spring she wrote several dispatches for this blog.

May 5

We arrived in beautiful Antigua, Guatemala for another week of surgeries. Our team of 34 members includes translators, cooks, surgeons, nurses, and anesthesiologists.

We are guests in a constantly changing system, and it has become even harder to bring our medical supplies and drugs through customs. The supplies are thoroughly scrutinized to make sure that everything matches the lists that were sent to the government a month before our arrival, but we made it with all of our supplies and equipment!

We have learned that 90 percent of the people here in Guatemala do not have access to health care. The country ranks fourth in the world for chronically malnourished children. Faith In Practice, the organization that we are traveling with, has 700 Guatemalan volunteers and 1,000 volunteers from the United States. There are eight village trips that triage patients for surgeries, along with teaching healthcare topics.

Our goal for the week is flexibility and fitting into the amazing Guatemalan community. We have come with a desire to help care for others and we are thankful that we are able to work in the hospital here.

Reflecting and Returning to Oakland

Editor’s note: Umma Amina, RN, is a nurse at Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center. She volunteers with the Glens Falls Medical Mission Foundation, which since 1996 has served the needs of underrepresented populations in Guatemala. She returned to Guatemala this month and sent this dispatch on April 16.

The mission has ended, but the feeling of compassion, gratitude and healing lives on and I am forever grateful for the experiences this mission gives me.Umma1

Each year upon returning from Guatemala there is a slight culture shock that occurs. I walk into my closet and see an abundance of shoes. Why do I have five  pairs of black shoes and some of my patients in Guatemala have no shoes?

I turn on the faucet and have an abundance of water. Why do I have so much clean water and some of my patient’s in Guatemala have no access to clean water?

Umma2I walk into work at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland and have access to an abundance of medical equipment, medical technology and medical personnel who provide high quality medical care. This is why I go to Guatemala: because I am thankful and so blessed to live and be where I am that I feel compelled to help those who do not have access to medical care.

I look forward to Spring 2014 and more time with the beautiful people of Guatemala. Muchas Gracias for reading this blog…Umma3

” Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We only have today. Let us begin.”
-Mother Teresa

Bananas, Boots, Blessings

Editor’s note: Umma Amina, RN, is a nurse at Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center. She volunteers with the Glens Falls Medical Mission Foundation, which since 1996 has served the needs of underrepresented populations in Guatemala. She returned to Guatemala this month and sent this dispatch on April 16.

Midweek and we are seeing a minor epidemic of varicella from the people of Ojo

Two boys healing from chicken pox and ready to roll with their new cars

Two boys healing from chicken pox and ready to roll with their new cars.

de Agua. Most of the patients have healing or healed scabs, so for the team this is a good time to see them as they are no longer contagious. For the patients, this is a huge relief to know the worst is over with. All they require now is supportive care of the scabs with simple remedies such as hydro-cortisone ointment.

After seeing patients for their chickenpox issues and giving them medications for the next six months until the fall mission arrives, we slowly move our gaze to their feet to offer them a pair of shoes. Sometimes they will timidly ask for shoes. We take the patient back to the “Zapatos Corner,” where they shyly choose a pair of shoes for themselves and as many family members as they like.

After saying our goodbyes and handing them their medications and shoes, one

Dr. Robinson after treating a family and a very cute little girl looking at her new shoes

Dr. Robinson after treating a family and a very cute little girl looking at her new shoes.

sweet woman gifted us bananas from her farm in exchange for our services.  At this moment compassion, humility and gratitude transcended the barriers of race, religion, socioeconomic divide and nationality. A blessing emerges in this exchange. It’s remarkable for both our souls: For us to be able to provide western medical healing and for her to be able to provide us with a soul healing via experiencing the true nature of humanness through the qualities of compassion, humility and gratitude.

The bananas were delicious and a welcomed daily snack for me!

Special Thanks to my friend Saena for donating shoes and Doctors  Joanne and David Robinson for bringing themselves (for the past 9 years!) and the donated shoes to the clinic in Nueva Santa Rosa.

A little girl plays with her new doll

A little girl plays with her new doll

UmmaAmina3-3

Me and our gracious Guatemalan Volunteer Vincente.

Me and our gracious Guatemalan Volunteer Vincente.

In Jumaytepeque, a Community of Love and Compassion Seeks Access to Health Care

Editor’s note: Umma Amina, RN, is a nurse at Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center. She volunteers with the Glens Falls Medical Mission Foundation, which since 1996 has served the needs of underrepresented populations in Guatemala. She returned to Guatemala this month and sent this dispatch on April 16.

Day two and we are working from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Although the hours are long, the time is so worth the effort for the people of this Umma2area. We have seen everything from simple headaches due to working in the coffee plantations for long hours to rare congenital anomalies. What impresses me most is the capacity of love for one another in a community setting. One patient will bring her five children and the children of her neighbor from a volcanic village such as Jumaytepeque to be seen. Neighborly love goes such a long way when you bring your neighbors’ sick child to be seen as they are busy working.

I also had the privilege of meeting 100 year-old midwife who delivered nine babies this month in her volunteer position, and is expecting to deliver 10 more-Umma1-just this month. The spirit and dedication of these women impresses me so greatly as they have no financial gain from the births they attend, as they voluntarily fill this great need in their community out of love and compassion for their fellow humans.

Umma3