Pulling up to the Acajutla medical site in El Salvador in large tourist-like buses is a wondrous sight on both sides of the glass.
From the inside, volunteers view two tents set up on a neighborhood street while people wait patiently in line, crowded together like sardines, one in front of the other. The lines even trickle out the back.
From the outside, patients watch as about 50 American doctors and nurses lumber off the buses with their gear and head in to set up for the day.
One of those patients, Rosanna had waited in line since 2 a.m. with her 9-day-old son, David. The baby, born three weeks early, only weighed four pounds at birth and was severely dehydrated. Rosanna needed the help of the Continuing Promise 2011 medical team.
HOPE volunteer, Dr. Janet Kinney, a Pediatrician from Tarrant, Texas, began giving baby David fluids immediately. “This is a first for me,” says Dr. Kinney as she fed David water through a syringe. “This just doesn’t happen in the NICU at home. I think the mom was dehydrated too and not making enough breast milk.”
The cycle compounds as the baby becomes dehydrated. “He gets sleepy and doesn’t want to eat, then mom stops producing enough milk,” explains Dr. Kinney.
The medical team treated the mother as well, providing her with four bags of water, 500 ml each, to drink as they continued to hydrate her son with the syringe.
At lunch, volunteer Nurse Faye Pyles bought Rosanna a pupusa and fries. Dr. Kinney added a cabbage slaw to the mix. Throughout the afternoon Rosanna ate, drank and continued to hydrate David.
Volunteer Beverly Griffis, a Florida International University Nurse Practitioner student, partnered with Pyles in the pediatric room for the day, surrounded by women and children. “This is the best learning environment,” says Griffis who specializes in family medicine “It is only my second day out and I’ve learned more than I have in a year in school.” Griffis adds, “I am also thankful for (nursing professor, and seasoned HOPE volunteer) Randy Roarke, who has been so helpful and informative throughout this whole process.”
The mayor of Acajutla and Commodore Brian Nickerson visited the volunteers and their military medical counterparts at the site on their last day of treating patients.
The medical team treated 894 patients at the Acajutla site and a total 1,600 patients for the day including medical site two. Aboard the Comfort, 25 surgeries were performed.
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