What should I know about the medical trip to Guatemala?

  • April 10, 2014
World Help

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What types of supplies should I bring?

Blood pressure cuff (manual or automated)
Portable otoscope/ophthalmoscope
Ear speculums
Tongue depressors
Assorted bandages, gauze, and tape
Permanent markers (these are used to write on ziploc bags and to mark patients’ hands when they have received their Albendazole)

Can medications be brought in through customs? 

Yes, as long as they are not expired.

What kinds of medications should our team bring?  

Albuterol inhalers (and spacers should you encounter a child who needs albuterol)
A small supply of steroids (to treat acute asthma exacerbations)
Albendazole (Parasite medication – people in this region should receive this medication every 6 months.)
Mebendazole,  Pyrantel pamoate, and/or Oxantel pamoate (Metronidazole along with one of these agents are used to treat active parasitic infections here in Guatemala)
Cephalexin (for skin infections)
A small supply of Azithromycin (to treat atypical pneumonia)
Calcium carbonate chewable tablets
Triple antibiotic ointment
Anti-fungal cream (i.e. Clotrimazole)
1% Hydrocortisone cream
Acetaminophen (adult and children)
Ibuprofen (adult and children)
Over-the-counter cold medication
Allergy medication (adult and children; it is best to bring long-acting meds such as Loratidine or Cetirizine)
Adult multivitamins with iron
Children’s multivitamins with iron (NO GUMMIES!)
Prenatal vitamins

Teams can consider whether or not they want to bring a small supply of blood pressure medication in the event they encounter someone with an immediate need for treatment.

If a patient needs a medication that the group does not have, can it be purchased?

Generally, yes.  However, it depends on the location of the nearest pharmacy.  Some of the villages are very remote.

How will medications be distributed? 

It is important that each team assign two members to run the pharmacy.  After seeing the patient, the provider will write a prescription for the appropriate medication(s), and this will be handled by the pharmacy.

Many teams choose to hand out Albendazole at the beginning of the day by asking those present to form a line before distributing medication. This insures that everyone present receives Albendazole, as not all will stay to see the providers.

What types of needs will be encountered in the villages?

GI complaints (reflux, chronic abdominal pain, diarrhea)
Parasitic infections
Viral infections (URIs, pharyngitis)
Chronic headaches
Chronic cough
High blood pressure
Skin infections (bacterial and fungal)
Dental caries
Urinary tract infections
Sexually transmitted diseases (if patients have symptoms of STDs, they should NOT be treated by the team; they should be educated about the need for a GYN exam and the risks of untreated disease and instructed to go to the nearest hospital or health center)

What if we encounter a patient that is very ill and needs a higher level of care? 

We can transport them back to St. Luke’s Hospital or to another local hospital.

What kind of facility will the clinics be held in?

Typically, clinics are held in village schools or churches. Hope of Life has a mobile clinic, but it cannot always travel the rough roads and narrow passages to the villages.

How will the clinic day be organized?

This is up to each team and should be decided upon before the trip. Some teams decide to start the day with a Gospel presentation or an educational talk before seeing patients. Other teams opt to distribute Albendazole to everyone in attendance before seeing patients. Typically, Hope of Life staff gives tickets to those wishing to see the providers. Based on the number of providers and the time allotted for the clinic, it is a good idea to decide upon the maximum number of patients that the team can reasonably see. If the team includes medical assistants or nurses, they may choose to take blood pressures before the patient sees the provider.

Will there be opportunities to do surgery?

No, not at this time. We hope that St. Luke’s Hospital will be equipped to allow for surgical procedures by 2015.

Will there be opportunities to do wellness classes?

Yes. Groups can prepare talks for the villages or for the mothers staying with their children at St. Luke’s Hospital. Possible topics include nutrition, treatment of diarrhea and dehydration, general hygiene, dental hygiene, and prenatal care.

Will translators be available?

Yes. It is important to decide how many providers your team will have.  Providers who are proficient in Spanish can see patients on their own. Each provider who does not speak Spanish will need their own translator in order to effectively communicate with patients.

Will there be time to pray with patients?

It is recommended that each team assign one or two members to pray with patients. Ideally, this offer should be made after the patient has seen the provider but before he or she receives medication. Our efforts as a medical team will have a temporary impact, but our goal is to make an eternal impact on the people we serve.

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