Friday, June 26, 2009

Volunteers Work Busy Medical Sites in EL Salvador

Within five minutes of our arrival at Jose Pantoja School, now converted into the staging area for Continuing Promise 2009, Project Hope volunteer nurse Peggy Goebel had canvassed the site, finding out where the Pediatrics, Radiology, Dental, Ophthalmology, General Medical and Pharmacy were located (all in rooms that, until two days ago, had been elementary school classrooms), found what was needed at each station, and began filling in the gaps. She sent a translator here, a triage nurse there, a corpsman to yet another area, and then began seeing to patients herself. A trained labor and post-natal nurse, she naturally gravitated to pediatrics.

The patients she saw had already been screened from the thousands still waiting outside the gates. She began to further prepare them to see a primary care provider—in this case, Project HOPE volunteers Ken Iserson (PH’s Medical Director) and Faye Pyles. She made sure their paperwork was filled out correctly, asked deeper screening questions that would speed up their process, and—with the help of their parents—generally kept dozens of children occupied, entertained, and mostly under control.

There were a lot of unusual Pedi patients today—a girl with probable cerebral palsy, another wheelchair-bound girl with two dislocated hips, a boy with a club foot. I followed Mirare Andrades and her mother from her initial screening to the end of her time at the triage area. Mirare, a 7-month old girl, has syndactilism—an extra thumb on her left hand which, though now is merely strange to look at, could cause her significant problems down the road. After coming through initial screening, she saw Doctor Iserson almost immediately, who sent her to Radiology.

At X-ray, Project HOPE volunteer Marina Rivera got her to sit still for just long enough to take 3 X-rays of her tiny hand. She checked the images—yes, the sixth digit was clearly visible. Back to Doc Iserson, and then the case had to be forwarded up to higher authority.

Because Mirare is less than a year old, she cannot be operated on aboard the Comfort. However, because of the partnership and cooperation in place between the U.S. and El Salvadorian governments, we were able to forward her on to the El Salvadorian Ministry of Health, and she is scheduled to be operated on in the General Hospital at La Union on Monday.

More tomorrow on health education training-Jacob


  1. Wow,
    What incredible work J. You and all the other warriors for peace and light.
    Om Shanti

  2. The Project HOPE volunteers (and all the military personnel who makes this mission possible) are simply amazing. I'm just honored and hubled to be able to stand by and witness and record this part of their lives. Its an awesome story.