After a sweet day of rest yesterday in Antigua, today we were back at the hospital by 6:30 a.m. facing a full schedule of surgery–we had eighteen children scheduled for today. Two of the children who had been scheduled failed to show up, but we added two who arrived at the hospital today for the first time. Surgery commenced by 7:30 a.m.
Here is an example of a patient added to our list at the last minute. Around 9 a.m., a cowboy, who manages a cattle ranch, arrived with his fifteen-year-old daughter. The father was asking that she receive corrective palate surgery. He had heard about the Rotaplast mission on the radio. Although he doubted that we could take new patients this late in the mission, he spent his two and and half hour bus ride praying that our team could help his daughter. He had even declined food and drink for his girl in case we could fit her into our schedule…we did.
A heart-tug to each mission is that not every child can be treated. For example, this morning little Ana Francisca arrived with her mother from San Juan, Zacatepee, which is six hours away by bus. Ana will be two years old this week. Sadly she had pneumonia and could not be cleared for an operation. Dr. Quintana sent them home with antibiotics and directed Ana and her mother return in July to another scheduled Rotary-sponsored medical mission in Guatemala.
The comfort of our patients depends in part on our ability to effectively communicate with them and their parents. This mission has two translators, Paola Ferraté and Raphael Diaz. Also speech pathologist Kathi Hoffer and mission director Rosalie Wells frequently step in to translate for the families, children and volunteers. But this mission is fortunate to have an unusually high number of bilingual physicians.
Our two pediatricians, Paul Quintana and Ken Bloome, are both fluent in Spanish. Dr. Quintana primarily attends to children in the ward and Dr. Bloome is stationed in the recovery room. Their language skills are obviously comforting for the parents and children and lead to effective directions to the local hospital staff. Medical Director Dr. Johnson as well as surgeons Solis and Beltran are also English-Spanish speakers. Dr. Vrtiskova is trilingual (German, Czech and English) but she uses our translators in the operating theatre.
During missions, local doctors often take training from the Rotaplast medical team. This afternoon Dr. Quintana gave a lecture to medical residents on pediatric issues.
There is someone on our trip who no one sees or hears from during the day, Colleen Wynne. Her friends and family must be wondering why she hasn’t shown up on the website yet. We haven’t forgotten her valuable contribution. Colleen is a career pediatric nurse in Stanford, California but here she has taken care of all the sterilization duties in a back room away from the hustle-bustle.
It was another fine day in Guatemala City for the mission team – more children were added and we operated on a total of 21 children. This was our busiest day yet. Please go to the team website to see more photos and meet the team members.