Early this morning the rain had ceased and in its place were some low clouds and wispy mist which danced around the tops of the mountains. The vegetation still dripped with water, and somehow seemed even more lush. This landscape is gorgeous.
Before we departed I saw our driver Norman – who works for the diocese – combing over his van with a checklist. He takes his job very seriously, and I am grateful he does. Padre Hector refers to Norman as his “Little Turtle,” in reference to his slow driving. But he has ever reason to be slow on these roads. They are narrow, filled with sharp turns, and laden with potholes. He takes his time for our safety.
We have had to employ Norman in the clinic. Though his English is limited, he has been an enormous help at the triage station helping Marco, Mary Beth, Bob, and Susan manage the crowed and begin the treatment process. Last night, when we explained to Norman that he was now a real part of our team and that we would be paying for his meals, he had to fight back tears as he barely got out a prolonged thank you.
Today’s work went exceptionally smoothly. Alberto – our little boy with the hand infection – was there to greet us as we arrived. He felt much better, he said, and his hand only hurt him a little bit overnight. The swelling was much improved – we re-packed the wound, gave him a dose of IV antibiotics, told him to continue with the oral antibiotics we gave him yesterday, and to return tomorrow for another look.
There were plenty other people in need of care today …a 98 year-old woman who had lost her vision due to an infection; a young woman who had brought her 14-day old boy for a check-up; and a local woman who runs a daycare/orphanage who had with her 11 small children – and who said she’d bring more tomorrow. We even had a young girl who benefited from osteopathic manipulative treatment! And of course there continued the barrage of parasitic infections, gastritis, asthma, malnutrition, and all manner of chronic conditions long since ignored in this impoverished country.
Through it all we worked calmly and swiftly. Without any panic at all, we treated 171 patients today. In two days we have already exceeded our four-day total from our mission here three years ago. We had to make a run to the nearby pharmacy to re-stock our shelves of some basic things (hydrocortisone cream, children’s Tylenol, etc), and that is but a symptom of the incredible volume of people we are seeing. The need here is immense, and we are more ready than ever to face the challenges these next two days will bring.