Thursday, the group headed out to a small community outside the city of La Ceiba called Armenia Benito. It is a very poor village of about 3000 people, most of which are uneducated and can’t get work. The public hospitals here are terrible and the healthcare is very poor, so most people just don’t go if they are sick. Since Erin Pettingill was a pediatric RN by trade before coming on the mission field, it makes sense for her to reach out to the community with her medical skills!
Each Thursday, they drive out to Armenia and set up a make-shift clinic in the community center in the center of the village, which is actually just an empty cinder-block rectangular building. They bring all of the medical supplies, including medicine, and set up to treat about 40 people over the course of the day. This week, Nate, Josh and I followed along to help.
When we arrived, there were more people waiting outside the door than the missionaries had ever seen at clinic before. They ended up having to turn away about 60 people!! After all, there’s only so much one small team can do when there’s only 1 medical professional in the group.
We set up the room into 3 areas: an in-take/waiting area, an exam room (divided from the rest by a curtain hanging from a homemade pvc curtain rod), and a pharmacy. Josh and one of the local boys handled in-take, which included taking the patients information, weight, height, blood pressure, blood sugar (finger pricking!), measurements, etc., and their chief complaint. Since Josh doesnt speak English, one of the local children who knew bits of English helped him out. Each patient is also prayed over and evangelized at this point, then sent to sit in the waiting area.
Erin called them one-by-one from the waiting area into the exam room, where she talked to them about their symptoms and did any medical check-ups that they needed. Nate sat with her, recording all of the patients diagnostic and treatment information into a special database on the computer. She wrote prescriptions, then passed them off to Sean (another missionary on the team), who gave them their medicine and instructions on how to take it.
I floated around, helping out wherever needed and playing with the kids who dropped by to see what was going on. I didnt stay out all day, because they didnt want me to get exhausted sitting in the heat for too many hours. I worked on my Spanish with the kids and gave them lots of hugs while they showed me around.
It was a great day!