La Paz de Susan

Link here to La Paz de Susan, Sister Susan Dewitt's blog about working with PazSalud and living in El Salvador from 2009 through 2013.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Surgery in progress

Susan writes:

Our 2014 surgery mission is taking place from May 10 - 19 at the National Hospital in Cojutepeque.  I'm not there this time, so I was thrilled that our good friend and most generous volunteer, Rossy Melara, posted photos from the mission on her FaceBook page. 

That's Darren, our PazSalud Coordinator, on the left; Rossy is in the middle, with Bruce and Terry on the right.  And here's a photo from inside the surgery suite:

I should be able to post more info about the week on Monday, when Darren and Kathy will have a bit more time.  This week, I know from five years' experience, they are completely absorbed in making sure that everything is done just right and in dealing with all the unexpected events that are sure to happen.

The patients this week were recommended for cataract surgery (or in a few cases to have pterygiums, growths from the conjunctiva, removed) by the examining optometrist.  Usually we only have patients from our General Medical Mission, held in San Pedro Perulap├ín, about a half hour's drive from the hospital, but this year we also have a number of patients from Estanzuelas who were recommended during a Bellingham Lions Eye Screening Mission.  This year marks an important first for us: for the first time, our surgeons will be using a Phaco Emulsifier - the equipment most often used for cataract surgeries in the U.S. - for many of the surgeries. 

Stay tuned for more news from the mission!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Before surgery

Darren writes:

After two group meetings/information sessions with our eye surgery patient candidates the next step for them is to complete the extensive series of pre-surgical exams at The National Hospital of Cojutepeque, the medical center hosting PazSalud for the Eye Surgery Mission on May 12-17.  Since we are only allowed to bring 5 patients per day for pre-exams and we hope to have 65 people participate in the mission, Yessenia - our local coordinator - and I have been slowly working our way through the group for several weeks now. 

Our days begin at 7:00 at the hospital when the group of patients meets with the social worker who helps them with the first step; getting a hospital file.  For many of our patients, this is their first time at the hospital, for some a first contact with Salvadoran doctors.  Connecting Salvadorans with their own government-sponsored, free health care system is one of the beneficial by-products of PazSalud missions.  Once the patients are registered at the hospital, the next step is to have a blood test, followed by a chest x-ray, an EKG and the taking of weights and measurements.  The days usually end by 1:30 with an internist interviewing patients to evaluate their fitness for surgery and so far everyone has qualified.  With a dozen patients to go we hope the streak continues.