Dr. Esteban’s blog
This has been a wonderful week . . . crazy busy and some internet/computer
issues, so this blog entry will try to hit some highlights on the week.
On day one Michael Caldwell, our fearless Clinic Director, made the usual
observation regarding how amazing it is that a group of individuals who
hardly know one another, come from diverse backgrounds, have completely
different skill sets, and virtually no team training can within hours set
up an amazingly smooth running and effective field hospital - - a usual
observation but still no less remarkable. Reasons for that really center
around two things that make it possible: Egos get checked at the door, and
there is a palpable sense that God is in charge. From moving smoothly
through customs (Thanks, Anna-Cheri), to folding the team together with
Colombian interpreters/students/church workers, to serving individual
patients for which we were perfectly prepared (Dr. Jeff Menn removed a
tooth from a young boy”s ear yesterday) . . . it is truly amazing.
Twinky, our Trip Director, with her husband, Rick, continue to demonstrate
their unique gifts. Twinky’s energy and organizational skills keep us all
on track and Rick’s problem solving abilities and sensitivity to cultural
issues are invaluable. Twenty years in Spain as missionaries enables them
to do so many things so well in this ministry that it would be almost
inconceivable to pull off Cartagena without them.
Optical did fantastic all week. I don’t have a count, but based upon the
number of glasses we distributed, the number will likely be between five
and six hundred. We saw approximately 1300 patients through the clinic so
that gives you the sense that optical was a hopping place. MaryBeth,
Vickie, Ross, Anita and all our interpreters were able to help lots of
people with their vision. Anita assisted on a number of surgeries and did
a fantastic job. Vickie and MaryBeth were cheerfully compassionate all
week. We began calling Ross, Dr. Ross, because he picked up so well and
would take charge whenever I was tied up in surgery which was most of the
time. But best of all, by the end of the week we had three interpreters
running their own eye lanes and distributing glasses. They did a more
efficient job than we gringos and had a great time. Fairwells for the
interpreters this year were especially touching.
Pharmacy functioned amazingly well. Megan developed preprinted labels for
common prescriptions that frees pharm staff up to focus on other very
important issues. Tom Robinson was his usual rock solid self. There were
also a couple exceptional interpreters in Pharm. Tom, who has led many med
missions pharmacies said that this is by far the smoothest he has ever run.
Even though they served all week in one of the few unairconditioned
spaces, there were a lot of smiles and good times in pharmacy.
We also purchased all our pharmaceuticals in country. It couldn’t have
been easier. The owner of the pharmaceutical supply company is a Christian
and came out to the clinic to see what he could do to
meet our needs for the future.
Louis, Juan Mesa’s cousin from Colombia and an orthopedic hand specialist,
worked with the team. His knowledge of local challenges for his people and
compassion for them has been a wonderful blessing.
Monica, our Guatemalan medical student, assisted Andy Weiss, our ob/gyn M.D.
They have been working over at the new medical clinic seeing patients in a
more controlled setting. She has been hardworking, cheerful, a great help
per Andy, and very much enjoying her opportunity to learn. She was added to
the team as a last minute replacement. She also worked one day assisting
me in surgery. She is waffling between OB/GYN and OPHTHO for her
specialty. It will be a difficult choice but one she knows will not be
made simply by herself. She has been a blessing.
John and Jeff, our pediatricians, have been indispensible. I marvel at how
they handled the swarms of families with kids coming through the clinic.
The assurance that these mothers receive from these docs that their
children are healthy and doing well certainly means a lot. Also having
this level of expertise (over 60 years of practice between them) means that
nothing slips past them that could be potentially dangerous. Their
contribution to the team has been immeasurable.
We did have a lady have a heart attack in the clnic one day. We had a
heart monitor with medications/IV in our emergency pack that stabilized her
as we took her to the hospital. She was admitted and doing well when we
checked on her yesterday. That could have been a terrible tragedy. It was
good that we had what we needed to address the situation.
Angie, Dr. Caldwell’s Hyper-baric nurse, did a fantastic job in triage.
With an interpreter, she did the job that typically takes 2-5 people to
do. The clinic ran very smoothly as a result.
Blanca, Veronica, Diane, and Rosa were a great team helping in peds/med.
There were lots of smiles, laughter and just great medical care going on
in that department.
Dr. Milan, our oral surgeon, was his usual workhorse self. This year
instead of birds, bugs, and dust flying through the clinic he moved up to a
storage room. It actually was quite nice at the new clinic. He was as
impressed as we all were at the wonderful vision and investment in the new
clinic by the Colombian doctors.
Well, time to pack up and depart. There is so much to share and not enough
time. Every single person on the team was fantastic, great leadership.
wonderful partners with whom to work here in Colombia, and a clear sense
that God is blessing our efforts with transformed lives.
Now back to the frigid North.