Health Outreach


Eighteen team members formed “Guatemala 2010” from January 23rd to January 31st, 2010.  Week One volunteers operated in the schoolyard of El Rosario and the One-day Clinic team of five members worked in a medical clinic in Quesada. 

Seventeen of the 18 volunteers met at Guatemala City airport on January 23rd.  We all had copies of an official letter with our names and cargo contents endorsed by the Guatemalan Consulate in Canada.  Another volunteer, Elspeth Lamont, lives in Guatemala, and joined us the following day.

Prior to Health Outreach’s arrival, our Country Director, Real Desrosiers announced to communities our visit. Health Outreach members arrived in Guatemala City and proceeded directly to Monterrico on the Saturday in three vehicles.

A full day (Sunday, January 22) was designated for product stocking, sorting out expired goods, medication packaging, training, meetings and equipment testing.  The supplies, our cargo and heavy equipment stored in Antigua, were brought to our base at the Hotel Dulce y Salado.  There was an emphasis on training and planning. Time was especially devoted to demonstrating and having clinical staff practice setting up the ADEC units and taking/developing radiographs The three generators, two new autoclaves, and three compressors and seven portable dental (ADEC) units were tested.  All instruments were sterilized using the two new sterilizers. Project Meeting #3 was a final opportunity to prepare team members for the following week.  It covered topics such as accommodations, personal safety, transportation, and food safety.

The amount of equipment we had required two trucks to transport to El Rosario.  On Sunday, the male volunteers brought all the equipment to El Rosario for secure lock-up in the classroom.  They set up the ADEC units, sterilization equipment and some furniture.

El Rosario – The school in El Rosario was the main clinic site this year.

We operated Monday to Thursday with three dental operatories and two hygiene chairs.  Five dental units were working.  The community nurse, Ingrid, her sister Sara and another teacher, Doris, assisted with the instrument collection and washing.

The clinic operated with five operators, including three dentists and two hygienists. The dentists all had assistants and the hygienists shared an assistant. The five dental assistants rotated through the operatories including the radiology area. A public Health Officer operated for the first time.  Although, she was supposed to visit schools, a strike by teachers resulted in cancelling these plans.  Instead, she visited villages, the Hawaii clinic, and stayed at the clinic helping with translation.  She conducted the Group oral hygiene instruction as planned.

A change this year was to devote Friday to inventory control.  All the volunteers arrived at the clinic at 8 AM as usual and worked very efficiently and accurately to account and itemize all HO sundries and equipment. 

Unlike last year, HO donated a 100Q stipend  to each Guatemalan volunteer who worked the week.


On Friday January 28th, five team members (Myself, Sylvie, Alex, Dennis, Elspeth) and the Country Director  (Real) travelled to Jutiapa .  We left Montericco at 3:15 PM and arrived at Quesada clinic at 6:30 PM.  The route involved a 20 minute barge ride and travel on rough, dirt roads until we reach Chiquimulia.  There were times we made wrong turns but it was all expected.  Our guide Real made it known that the route was not completely clear to him.At the clinic, we were greeted by the nurse.  Equipment was off loaded and stored in the locked facility.

 On the following day, Saturday, there were 40 children waiting.  We spent 45 minutes setting up a surgical chair using a medical examination table and a restorative operatory using a high pool recliner. An automatic sterilizer was available to us. A compressor was also available although some modifications were made.

The first patient was seen at 9:15 Am and the last left at 4 PM.  We took one hour to dismantle the equipment and leave.  In total 41 children were seen.


“Guatemala 2010” was a success on many levels.  We achieved all our objectives including the care of over 281 children in El Rosario and 41 children in Quesada. In El Rosario, almost all of these children also had a hygiene appointment with sealants.

A safe and successful one day clinic was organized in Quesada.  The dental need is obvious as illustrated by the Health History questionnaires of the days’ patients.

Volunteer satisfaction was high from some of the comments expressed to the leaders and project evaluations.

It should be noted that most if not all of the issues noted on last year’s report and volunteer questionnaires were solved this year.  This includes sterilization, inventory, and staffing. This was a result of early planning, greater funding, and a general greater attention to detail by organizers.

Next year’s project could include the Quesada clinic for 3-5 days.

Tim Lee

Project Leader


April 29, 2010

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