Medical Brigade 2017

“Wow!” That’s a direct quote from Bobbi Hopkins, one of the founders of HGW, when she spoke the last night of our mission. This was during the part of our Holy Communion service, in which participants spoke about their experiences, instead of a having a sermon.
This year’s participants included 65 people from across the USA, 2 from Mexico, and 30 from Honduras! We had 11 American doctors and nurse practitioners, 4 Honduran doctors, 4 Honduran dentists, and 22 Honduran bilingual college students or graduates who served as translators. What was most impactful to those who have been going on these trips for years was that most of those who spoke up that night were the young adult Honduran translators. They saw, many for the first time, how their rural poor live. They were so touched by the poverty, and by the personal strength and joy of those rural poor, that many spoke of wanting to return and make a difference. They were grateful for the opportunity to serve this week.
The Honduran doctors and dentists were likewise completely engaged in the care of these patients. To have available the medicines that they prescribed, was of great significance. They expressed great thanks for the service we helped them provide. Many of the rural Hondurans can attend village health centers, where they can see a nurse or doctor, but frequently there is no medicine available after a diagnosis has been made. The local physicians were an enormous benefit to those of us providers who don’t know the system, from how to get a patient to a referral center, to what sorts of local antibiotic resistance may be present. We also had a great time in the evenings, doing case studies. In particular this year, we had an American dermatologist on the team, and we all brought him pictures of difficult cases, so we all could learn.
This year we attended 20 different villages, and saw 2220 patients over a 5-day period. Many were treated for coughs, colds, aches and pains. Infections and diarrheal illnesses are less common than in previous years, but still occurred with increased frequency in some villages. Parasites remain a problem due to poor drinking water, and contaminated soil. While some of the school age children are in a parasite prevention program at school, in which Honduras Good Works provides prophylactic anti-helminth medicine every 6 months, we still delivered over 5000 doses of ‘worm-medicine” to patients and their families. Seizure disorders were particularly high in one village, possibly due to a certain parasitic condition that attacks the brain. We do see western diseases cropping up, such as diabetes and hypertension, particularly in the larger towns were lifestyle changes are occurring.

By having such a large bilingual Honduran group, we felt much more cohesive, and functioned as a unified team. We feel HGW’s direction is more and more to equip the Hondurans to take care of their own. All were touched emotionally and spiritually by the experience, and we want to thank all those who donated money, supplies, medicines and equipment to allow the brigade to occur.

HGW will be raising money to help pay for a local water filter program that will incorporate 3 hours of teaching on hygiene, the benefits of clean water, and ways to keep water from becoming re-contaminated after being filtered. This training will be done before providing a filter that will be shared by 3 families, and follow up will be done to ensure best practices are being followed. The benefits of a ready supply of clean water cannot be overstated.

In summary, it was a great trip. There is much work to do, and many ways to improve, and so we begin planning anew!

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