The last day of full-scale medical operations for the Project HOPE team in Colombia is much the same as any other day here. It was a solid stretch of work in the tropical heat to bring HOPE’s skill to those who need it most.
Skin conditions stood out today as the medical issue du jour. Sometimes a pattern can develop at the med sites where a noticeable number of patients arrive in a single day with a minor problem such as foot pain or headaches. There’s no common environmental explanation for these occurrences; they’re simply a matter of chance.
Nurse Practitioner Matya Cooksey saw an infant with inflammation around his forehead and right eye from insect bites. Such afflictions are all too common in a country with such diverse insect life. The pharmacy was out of hydrocortizone creme, so Matya prescribed Benadryl syrup.
Our other Nurse Practitioner onsite Sandy McCormack counseled an elderly patient on how to improve her general quality of life. Sandy advised the lady to avoid caffeine to help lower her blood pressure. She also suggested wearing shoes with arch support to alleviate pains in the patient’s legs.
“Today we saw general aches and pains, and gave second opinions,” Sandy said. “So we can let them (the patients) know that the Colombian doctors are doing their jobs.”
Team doctor Manish Oza’s final patient of the day was a trim woman in her early sixties who had been in a motorcycle accident two days before. The crash had given the patient severe arthritis in both shoulders. When asked to raise her arms above her head, she burst into tears from the pain before she had even lifted her elbows above the level of her shoulders.
Unfortunately, the woman’s injury will require an X-ray, which we do not have at Med Site 1. Manish, frowning deeply at his inability to help, prescribed an analgesic and referred her to the local hospital.
The day finished with an impromptu concert by a Colombian band in the school’s courtyard. The frenetic, trumpet-fueled tunes did not inspire one to dance so much as to watch the musicians, and let the sheer energy of the music burn away the day’s stress.
The team will depart the USS Iwo Jima soon. We have all enjoyed working in Colombia and Haiti. We are proud to have been a part of Project HOPE and Continuing Promise 2010.
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