The rain came down in sheets, but the people of Barangay Katapunit poured into the grounds of the elementary school to be seen at a medical outreach set up by Project HOPE volunteers. The cool rain was a relief after a week of heat and humidity.
The day began before dawn for the team as they traveled for almost an hour to the site. There appear to be four types of roads on Panay Island. The combination of bumpy roads and rain made the trip to Katapunit an adventure to start the day.
In spite of the less than ideal weather, the leaders of Barangay Katapunit were there early to greet the team. The Project HOPE volunteers set up a medical outreach site in less than an hour. Elementary school classrooms were quickly transformed into adult and pediatric “examination rooms,” a place to collect patient vital signs, a well-stocked pharmacy, a small surgical area and a patient education room. The eighteen members of the team had specific responsibilities and shortly after arriving they were actively involved in screening the community members as they streamed in.
Over a period of six hours the team provided care for more than 200 people. Virtually everyone arrived on foot. Some of those who were seen had walked over five miles to get there. Some just needed a medical check-up while others presented with complex and challenging medical issues.
The day included a humorous note when Dr. Steve Gardner from Massachusetts General Hospital did a mental status exam on an elderly woman. Part of the exam involves asking the woman to remember three objects. A few minutes later, Dr. Gardner asked the woman if she remembered the objects. She did not, but Dr Gardner was surprised to see 15 hands raised in the back of the room ready to answer the question.
The late afternoon trip back to Tapaz was more challenging than the morning trip. The rain had made the roads quite muddy. The team arrived “home” a little damp and tired but proud of the way they had served a community that rarely sees health care professionals.
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