Honduras health service trip: day 1 in Cuyali

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Over spring break, 31 Des Moines University students embarked on a weeklong journey to provide health care, education and supplies to hundreds of underserved individuals in Honduras. Over the coming weeks, Dose of DMU is featuring Kelsey’s daily accounts and photos of the group’s experiences.

Thursday, March 20, 2014: DAY 1 IN CUYALI

Today we drove about an hour and a half to a new community, Cuyali. There are 1,752 people and 366 homes in this community. We set up our clinic in a school, similar to the way we ran things in Santa Rosa De Güinope.

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As we interacted with members of this community, we realized they are more educated than the previous community we saw. The local people understood a little more about health – what is normal and what is not. In Santa Rosa, the patients complained of previous illnesses that were resolved or generalized problems like a headache or a stomachache. People in this community, Cuyali, presented with more specific complaints. They also have easier access to health care, including a hospital a few miles away.

One of the most common complaints was head lice. Luckily, we had lice shampoo in our pharmacy to give to these patients. We also saw some unique cases. For example, an elderly women suffering from albinism had skin lesions all over her body – indicative of skin cancer. Since she lacks melanocytes in her skin, she has no protection against ultraviolet light from the sun. This diagnosis is heartbreaking because there is nothing we could do for her, no option of chemotherapy or other common forms of fighting cancer that we use in the United States. All we could do was make her feel as comfortable as possible.

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Also, many women of Cuyali understood the importance of seeing an OBGYN for a check-up. Unfortunately, the conditions of the clinic were not the best. We set up a cot on cinder blocks to serve as the examination table. Since we had to block the windows to keep the patient’s privacy, there was little natural light – so the assisting student held a flashlight over the physician’s shoulder. There were so many women waiting to be seen, there was a line still waiting when we had to close down the clinic at 5 p.m. We promised to see them when we returned tomorrow.

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