Health Outreach


Project 2006 overview

Guatemala 2006

“Guatemala 2006” was the most recent of Health Outreach’s annual projects on the west coast of rural Guatemala. Our goals were to provide emergency and urgent dental care, establish closer relationships with the community; and provide relief for families affected by Hurricane Stan.

Twenty four team members formed “Guatemala 2006” from January 21st to February 3rd 2006. Team Rosario operated in the schoolyard of El Rosario; Team Hawaii operated in the Health Clinic in Hawaii, Santa Rosa. The volunteer staff included eight dentists, one senior dental student, four dental assistants, two translator/managers, three translators, a data entry person, sterilization and radiology technicians, and three technical staff. A sterilization assistant and administrative support personnel aided us: Real, our Country Director, was present for the entire two weeks. Notices were posted in advance announcing dental treatment for “children as a priority”. Oral examination, radiology, endodontics, oral surgery (extraction), and restorative were all offered as well as dental health education. Health Outreach members arrived in Antigua, Guatemala on Saturday, January 21st.,boarded our rental vehicle the next day and drove to Monterrico. An ADEC dental unit, dental chair and portable lamp were borrowed from Transitions, another non-profit group.

Product stocking, medication packaging, meetings and equipment testing were done and supplies, our cargo and heavy equipment stored in Antigua, were brought to our base at the Hotel Dulce y Salado. A general meeting covered topics such as transportation, infection control and food safety.

El Rosario – week 1
The village of El Rosario was located 30 minutes from our base, accessible by 4X4 and boat only. Patients raveled from two other communities – Las Mañanitas and El Dormido. Other communities were more remotely located south of Monterrico along the Pacific coast. Pick-up from the hotel was at 7:30 a.m. The amount of equipment we had required boat transportation as well as the two trucks. Approximately 8 team members were dropped off at the canal riverside for boat transportation, then two 4x4 vehicles arrived and set up took more than an hour.

Oral Hygiene lessons were conducted all week at El Rosario using classroom instruction and demonstration as well as Spanish language DVDs. Oral Health Manuals were distributed as well as tooth brushes and floss with instructions for their use. Our main helpers in El Rosario were Julio, a village leader, and Byron, the teacher at the school. Julio and other helpers were presented with tokens of our appreciation.

Hawaii – week 2
The Puesto de Salud in Hawaii was a medical clinic with water and electricity,- fortunately, our equipment was secure there. On Monday morning, two rooms were set up for restorative and one for restorative/endodontic treatment. An operatory was assembled outside the side door for surgery. Our supporters in Hawaii were Marcos, a community leader and Santos, a nurse at the Puesto de Salud. Marcos loaned us a Honda generator: Santos was always polite and available, and the president of the community, Luis, also was supportive.

“Guatemala 2006” was successful, due to the increase in team size and equipment. Much of the improvement was in the better efficiency which allowed us to see more patients than last year. Our objectives were achieved with very little problems. Our large, skilled team performed with dedication, tolerance and good morale.

The location of our base/hotel, Dulce and Salado, was conveniently accessible to our needs and reasonably priced. The 4X4 double cab pick-up truck was perfect for our needs as was the KIA 4X4 from Adventure Travel. Both vehicles accommodated our heavy equipment and large team and could negotiate the deep sand of the road and the soft sand of the beach as well. The boat transportation on two occasions, reserved one day prior, was invaluable on days we had equipment moved from our base hotel. Set-up and dismantling was relatively quick, considering the extra equipment we had over last year. The staff was experienced with the equipment or learned its assembly quickly.

There seemed to be the appropriate number of staff in the right number of positions even though some people could not attend on certain days. Our team had four bilingual staff including an assistant who spoke Spanish and English fluently. Professional staff was skilled, with eight dentists and one senior dental student: four pairs operated simultaneously using four dental chairs during the two weeks. The skill level of the team was apparent in difficult operations and conditions. Sterilization staff members were efficient and extra staff helped when necessary. A visiting dentist named Claude helped during Week 1 with translation and patient intake. Francois, the oral surgeon, booked for Week 2, covered a day in Week 1 for difficult extractions. Lucas Belair, a social worker from Quebec and his wife, Jacky Canteo, who spoke English and Spanish, helped with translation on the Thursday and Friday of
Week 1.

Our Public Health effort was extensive for El Rosario but lacking for Hawaii due to space limitations. Another component of Oral Health education was suggested by our Public Health Officer - to train an educator, a teacher named Alex Chinchilla, to continue with it.
Our plan for short sundries worked well. The sundry person contacted a Team Two member by e-mail who brought the items on the next flight. Cargo was greater this year because of the digital radiology equipment, extra sterilizer, DVD projector, borrowed equipment, and Relief Supplies. . The statistics for patient care were excellent, mostly because the priorities for children were set early and maintained throughout the two weeks. As a result, there were not a lot of disgruntled adults as was the case last year. The increase in the number of patients cared for was due to the minimal amount of set-up and the efficiency with which it was done. This year, we worked at two sites over two weeks versus three sites over one week.

Health Outreach consistently produces a budget for each project which is approved by our Board for action. The project did not go over that budget.

Our objectives for “Guatemala 2006” were reached. Six communities were serviced by this project at two field sites in Hawaii and El Rosario. Operations were orderly and efficient. Procedures were diverse. With better equipment, we wished to perform more dental restorations than extractions and resulting statistics were exceptional. A greater rapport was established with community members and new relationships were made with government officials. The Hurricane Relief Effort was successful in reaching our sponsor community of El Dormido. New clothing and school supplies were donated on several occasions.

~Dr. Timothy Lee

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