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 week, Dose of DMU will feature Kelsey’s daily accounts and photos of the group’s experiences.
We returned to Santa Rosa De Güinope for the third and final day. When we arrived, the line of patients outside of the school, waiting for us, was even longer than the past two days. About 100 people were lined up in anticipation of our arrival.
One of the clinic stations was dedicated to women’s health. Here, we had a doctor and a student conduct pelvic exams, breast exams and Pap smears. Many of the women presented with yeast infections that had been going on for months! One young lady was diagnosed with an incompetent cervix. She had previously given birth to a premature child at 26 weeks. Due to the lack of medical help, the baby died after eight days. Today, she came in wanting to see an OBGYN to check on her current pregnancy. Unfortunately, upon examination, the doctor noticed her cervix was already dilated one to two centimeters at only 27 weeks. She was prescribed steroids to quicken the baby’s development and instructed to avoid intense physical activity. She was also referred to a local clinic that could provide care for her during the rest of her pregnancy.
We encountered many other unique cases that are uncommon back in the United States. For example, there was a man who had been shot multiple times by a machine gun – he even had one bullet in his abdomen that was never removed. Another man survived a machete attack and had prominent scars on his chest and back. We also saw two individuals with pterygium on their eyes. A pterygium is an extension of the sclera on the cornea caused by exposure to ultraviolet light and wind. This can become a significant problem if it grows over the cornea completely, obstructing the patient’s vision.
Upon examination, a mother was diagnosed with mastitis, which is inflammation of the mammary glands. Due to the mastitis, it was extremely painful for her to breastfeed her two-week-old infant. So instead of breastfeeding, the mother was feeding her child water and corn syrup. As a result of nutritional deficit, the child was very small. The mother was referred to another clinic to do a work up on her mastitis, and the child was given cans of formula.
There was another infant who was receiving abnormal sources of nutrition. In addition to breast milk, the three-month-old was also being fed cow’s and goat’s milk. The mother did not know that cow’s milk before the age of six months is dangerous for an infant. Cow’s milk can cause infants to present with bloody diarrhea and develop an allergy to milk. We explained to the mother that she can only breastfeed and give goat’s milk to the infant, with absolutely no cow’s milk until she is older than six months.
This community has been amazing to serve. The people constantly say “hola” with a smile. They are appreciative and grateful for our help, despite having to walk two to three hours and wait in line for up to six hours.