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Posted By: Alyson Landry on June 28, 2011

Labels: Americas , Nicaragua , Volunteers

The beautiful landscape and city of San Juan del Sur, coupled with the brilliant orange sunsets, deeply contrasts the ocean, which continues to rock the ship and the Project HOPE team who have come back after a successful first day in Nicaragua.

Volunteers Luz Gomez, Kimberly Harris, Randy Roark and Nicole Navarre worked at the Menendez medical site, which saw 568 patients total. Each volunteer treated 30-40 people today while sweating through a heat index of 116 degrees.

According to Harris, this was not as easy as you think. "Each patient didn’t come with just one issue to be checked out, but multiple questions," she says.

“Most of it was education,” adds Navarre, as Gomez agrees. Some mothers thought their children were too thin for their age, but most fell within the normal weight range of childhood patterns according to the nurses. "This may be due to the culture," Gomez says. "One theory is that some mothers believe a bigger child must be healthier and indicate how how much you love them."

Another concern among mothers was lack of appetite among their children. However, upon further patient investigation, the the nurses found out that many of the children were drinking their calories in milk or other liquids. Therefore, basic health education was given along with the examinations.

One patient at the Menendez site, which was a warehouse with beds and chairs set up, was a 6-year-old boy who came in with a double-ear infection. As he was leaving he experienced a seizure. Navarre found out  the boy had been seizing since he was 2 years old, but nobody had ever treated him as an epileptic. The hospitals would treat him and send him home, but never diagnosed it.

As HOPE volunteers worked ashore at the medical site, HOPE volunteer Kim Jacomo, an Operating Room Nurse, stayed aboard the USNS Comfort and helped with the 23 surgeries. Jacomo helped interview the patients and prepare them for surgery, including some hand holding, a universal sign of comfort in any language.

Surgeries today included several cataracts operations, hysterectomies and two cleft palate repairs.

The mission of Continuing Promise is not only with the patients and their families, but also to build diplomatic ties with the host country. Today, the Vice-President of Nicaragua, as well as an ambassador boarded the ship for a distinguished visitors luncheon. The Vice-President has come aboard the hospital ship during two previous Continuing Promise missions.

In total, the Continuing Promise 2011 mission team today

  • Treated 1,236 patients
  • Preformed 23 surgeries
  • Conducted nine CAT scans

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