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Today is the fourth and final day of surgeries for the trip. The team has reached its stride and is becoming a well-oiled machine. There is close integration of Guatemalan workers and American volunteers in the pre and post operative areas. Volunteer Carolina and Guatemalteco David cheerfully prepare patients for surgery in the pre-operative area, while Donnette and Maryem work with Leslie in the PACU area.

On rounds this morning, Martha, whose son was in a different hospital, is recuperating well from her hernia repair and will be discharged home in the afternoon. She heard from her family that her son was improving and hopefully would also be joining her at home soon. A group of patients, who had traveled from 8 hours away to have their operations earlier in the week, had departed for home on a bus at 4 a.m.

We have enjoyed having a very compassionate, thoughtful and fun anesthesia team this week. Even before traveling to Guatemala, Callie has been working diligently to find medications for the many spinal anesthetics they have utilized this week. Dr. Lima was instrumental in guiding the creation of “spinal kits” on Sunday. Dr. Deaver has both worked hard and entertained us with his D/bad jokes. Barbara both provided excellent anesthetics but helped us communicate with our Spanish speaking patients and coworkers.

Each time I have come down here, I am reminded again of why the work is so fulfilling and why so many team members keep coming back. Here are some of the reasons this team gave for why they came back or, for the first-timers, why they would come again:
The people are so grateful. -Corina, 3 trips
It lets me practice medicine the way I imagined that I would when I went to school. – Suzy, 6 trips
It feels good to be able to share and to give back. – Donnette, first trip
It is humbling and rewarding to work with different providers from my day-to-day job and still be able to apply my skill set. Jess, first trip
The strength of the organization is important. I like that the village workers will be there to follow up with the patients after we leave. – Lorene, 6 trips.
I like to be able to provide good care to people who really need it. Ginny, first trip.

There are many reasons I keep coming back. One of the most important is that I see the need here and it feels good spiritually and morally to be able to help. It is also great to meet different people and work with the teams. Rick, 11 or 12 trips.

After the day’s surgeries were complete, the OR team, including first time volunteer Randi Zgol and frequent volunteer Monica Patel, packed up instruments and remaining supplies. As things are winding down, many of the members are already talking about next year. Overall, the team completed 68 surgeries during this trip.

-David F.


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