Project HOPE volunteer, Dr. Ruth Hart, an emergency medicine physician from Manlius, New York, has seen a lot in her 30 year career. Still was startled when she first examined Rodney Berika who visited the medical site set up by the Continuing Promise 2010 mission in Paramaribo, Suriname.
“He came in wearing Crocs®. When he sat down and slipped off his shoes, I saw the dirty bloody bandage wrapped around his foot. It was clear that part of his foot was missing and he had lost most of the feeling,” says Dr. Hart.
When taking his medical history, Dr. Hart found out that Mr. Berika is a 29-year-old man, with a 10-year history of diabetes. He works on the docks in Suriname, carrying boxes and luggage. Berika is married with two sons and works very hard to support his family. He has never been able to afford the medications and medical needed to take care of his diabetes.
Dr. Hart consulted with a military doctor participating in Continuing Promise 2010 mission and the two diagnosed Berika’s foot with an advanced diabetic pressure ulcer. They also examined his left foot and found signs of Gangrene on the fourth toe.
The team treated the patient’s right foot and then turned their attention to educating the Berika and his family about the seriousness of diabetes and necessity of daily attention and care to his disease.
In addition, the medical team called the local university hospital, and arranged for a representative of the hospital to provide continuing counseling and initial treatment for Berika.
Still long-term care, daily testing and availability of insulin may remain challenges for Berika. With Suriname’s wet environment and Berika’s occupation as an outdoor laborer, wound care and healing also remain a concern.
In the meantime, Dr. Hart provided a translator with money and instructions to purchase a real pair of shoes and some socks for Mr. Berika to wear to insure his foot stays better protected and clean.
During the evening, others onboard the USS Iwo Jima took up a collection for fresh socks and money to possibly be able to help Berika get some of the medical equipment he needs.
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