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Posted By: Alyson Landry on September 16, 2011

Labels: El Salvador , Volunteers

Earlier this summer, 21 Project HOPE volunteers provided medical care and health education in El Salvador. Read their stories.

After the USNS Comfort crew packed up in El Salvador, Project HOPE had several days at sea for their impact in the country to sink in.  

El Salvador was the first country on the Continuing Promise 2011 mission using a HOPE volunteer pharmacist and two pharmacy students to support patient care.            

Volunteers, Emily Kirchner and Alisa McGhee, both doctor of pharmacy students at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia, learned how to make quick decisions for patient care.        

“We were the double check,” says Kirchner, “we were checking all of the dosing and making sure it was safe for the patient.” 

“It was interesting to observe the different prescription patterns between the doctors,” Kirchner adds. Both students agreed some of the local doctors used antibiotics across the board and other drugs more often.

McGhee was also impressed by the work of the mission support staff, and the patients themselves. “The translators were pretty amazing, which mirrored the patients’ graciousness and patience even though pharmacy is usually their last stop after a long day,” she says.

Although the students were supported by their mentor and preceptor, and long-time HOPE volunteer Pharmacist, Earl Rogers, and other pharmacists surrounding them, the increased responsibility was a great experience for both.

With the support of the HOPE volunteers, Pharmacy saw more patients in El Salvador than any other country on the mission so far, according to the Pharmacy staff aboard the USNS Comfort.

Having medical students participate in the mission is a win-win situation for everyone says HOPE’s Chief Nursing Officer, and long-time volunteer Faye Pyles. “That’s the reason the students are here, education is part of our initiative,” she says.  

In addition to learning in the field,  and facilitating more patient visits, the  HOPE pharmacy students and nursing students participating in the mission also presented on various diseases while on the USNS Comfort to Costa Rica.  

The FIU students, Beverly Griffis and Lori Brown, gave a presentation on Dengue fever, which is prevalent in Central America.  

The pharmacy students, Kirchner and McGhee, presented cases seen on Pinworms and Elephantitis. 

In El Salvador, Project HOPE volunteers along with their Navy counterparts, provided health care to more than 5,500.

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