The final two work days of our trip -Wednesday and Thursday, we split in to two groups and headed to two different communities to perform health screenings on the individuals within the communities. These communities are sometimes referred to as the Precarios.
Precarios translates in to “precarious” in English, which means “uncertain, dangerously likely to fall or collapse, dependent on chance.” Going in to this day, I know there was a lot of fear and anxiety about what to expect in this setting throughout the class; we only knew what we assumed about the community (i.e. dangerous). I think many of us were surprised at how different it was than what we expected. The people did not hesitate to let us in their homes to ask a few questions, they came to us at the church to ask us questions, and they saw our scrubs and immediately knew that we meant good things.
The first day was spent walking through the communities, knocking on doors and yelling “UPE!” (the common greeting for this community), and asking the families if anyone had a need for a health screen by physical therapy students. Each group of 4 had a translator and a member of the community who knew the families well. We also began to get a feel for the church that we were going to be performing the screening in, allowing us to set up our specific areas prior to heading out. We had to leave the community by 4 every day, for safety reasons I believe, but we were all thrilled with that because it meant we had a little extra free time when we got back to the convent to work out, grab a drink, or take a nap before dinner.
Thursday was the actually health screen. Our group at Guarari ended up screening 43 patients and found multiple ailments that these individuals may not have ever known about due to the lack of health care access that they have. I was in the vital signs area, so I was just checking blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, height and weight of each individual before they went to get checked out by my classmates.
We actually ended up having a good amount of free time because taking vitals doesn’t take very long. Because our classmates didn’t want help with doing any of the actually musculoskeletal screens, we resorted to playing with all of the children that were brought along…
The picture below is probably one of my favorites of the entire trip. The children were fascinated by our scrubs and kept referring to us as “la doctora”, the doctor. I decided to sit on the stage and have one of the children use my stethoscope to listen to my heart. Soon enough, I had a line of kids waiting for their turn to listen to each other’s hearts. It was amazing to see their little faces light up when they heard the beating. (Don’t worry, I had an alcohol swab that I was using to clean off the ear pieces.)
My classmates who were doing the musculoskeletal screen ended up finding a few different diagnoses: a torn ACL ligament, a sprained MCL, a town meniscus, multiple postural dysfunctions, and a woman who had a potential serious heart condition, whom we referred to a hospital.
After the people were diagnosed and had a few tests performed on them, they went over to the last station with Lauren and Kristin where they were given exercises with pictures to perform in order to help whatever ailment they presented with.
This screening was another eye opening experience for our class. We realized just how much these people needed this health care, because most of these individuals wouldn’t have received any care otherwise. It was a great way to end our mission trip work!
The next post will chat about our adventure days – zip lining, hot springs, and Manuel Antonio beach!