Saturday, August 29, 2009

Violence and Crime invade Guatemala

Good Morning,
It is Saturday morning. Guatemala is in the international and national news for the surge of crime, extorsions, and assasinations. This week it was close to home. An evangelical Pastor, his wife, and young niece were assasinated on the road to a town about 15 miles from Santo Tomas. They are our neighbors, as the church he pastors, and their home, is right across the entrance to our Mission. Family arrived at dawn from the States. Tomorrow they will move their loved ones to be buried in the town of origin. The motive of the assasinations appears to have been over Land. We sent conodolences and flowers. Extorsions of owners of buses and small taxis is happening all over the country and also in this community. This is very sad and frightening for all the people. Please keep this dear country in prayer. Hunger and malnutrition are in the news daily. The poor are suffering greatly with the economic crisis and lack of work. Many are being deported from the United States so that source of supplement of income is also disappearing. Our clinic daily provides more charity and sees more patients and children suffering effects of poverty and malnutrition. We are grateful for financial support and prayers.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Feliza arrives back to clinic!

Good evening!
Well this evening Feliza and her dad arrived from Guatemala City on the town bus. It was wonderful to see her look more healthy. Her feet and abdomen are no longer swollen. She is on several medications for tuberculosis. We thought that she would be referred to a Tuberculosis Hospital but actually we are more comfortable to have her here near where her family can be with her. She has been given enough medicine for two weeks and she has an appointment in the Infectious disease clinic in the largest government Hospital in the city. We will accompany her to this appointment. Her dad will go home tomorrow and Feliza will stay with us in the clinic. They are a very poor family and we know her diet would not be adequate at home. We have a kitchen worker who is from a village and lives at the mission during the week so she will assist in watching over her. On my last visit to the city she had asked for a doll. I was a bit surprised as her previous request was for high heels. My clinic accountant and chofer, as I do not drive in the city, laughed when I looked surprised, and his response, GET HER A DOLL!! Of course I did and she is very happy with her doll which is dressed in indigenous attire.

Today we also had the visit of a Swedish Organization that we are hopeful will fund an extension of our environmental project. Please keep this in prayer. Our stove project is very important to us and we have also included request for a nutrition project as hunger increases and we are supplementing more and more malnourished infants with milk and protein drink. We provide nutrition classes and ideally we would want to provide family vegetable gardens. Thank you for prayer and support.
GOOD NIGHT!! I leave you with a photo of Feliza and her DOLLY. love sheila

Monday, August 24, 2009

News from Clinica Maxeña!

Good afternoon,
Life has been perhaps routine and I have not stopped to write a bit of our world in our parish clinic, LA MAXEÑA. We are preparing for our bi annual Brigade of Opthamologist surgeons on September 7, 2009. The majority of these doctors have been volunteering this valuable service for over ten years and most of them are from California. The actual Surgical Opthamology Unit in our clinic was donated by a Montana Opthamologist, Dr. Kuptco of Hamilton, Montana. Over 300 patients have signed up for consult for this opportunity and gift of service.

Our maintenance crew have laid the ground work for another valuable supporter and engineer, Monty Giles. Monty will come in November to install a water pump for a 5,000 gallon reserve water tank. This will insure water for our second floor of the clinic and also for the dental service. This is again a very valuable gift as water around the world becomes more scarce.

Last Friday we had a real emergency that left little time for decisions. Marta is 19 yrs old, married, of few economic resources. She arrived with shortness of breath, very rapid heart beat and in acute distress.She had not been previously to a clinic. It was the end of the day, the end of the week. Our Doctor examined her and knew we had to send her immediately to a hospital. He knew that on weekends the doctor in charge of Intensive Care in the government Hospital is not present until Monday. Resident Doctors would make decisions. He also knew there are few cardiac meds available in the hospital. We decided to send her to a private clinic with an Internist we knew had cardiac experience. After emergency care, electrocardiaogram, chest Xray and Echocardiogram, oxygen and lab tests she was diagnosed of having a serious mitral valve defect, and pulmonary hypertension. She spent the weekend in this private clinic and was stabilized. The cost was less than one thousand dollars. The family was able to obtain 75% of this and the clinic donated the remainder. Today she went to the Cardiac Center in Guatemlala City, which is subsidized by the government. She will be operated by Cardiologists this week. We are confident the cost will be minimal due to her poverty. We are content that she is now stable and we know patients, such as Marta, make real our purpose of mission in Guatemala.

Saturday, Sr. Mary and myself, went to visit the home of one of our patients who we were aware was in critical condition. Israel was 4yrs old and had a brain tumor. He was in treatment for many months with both chemo and radiation. His condition had left him blind and he had glass eyes. Israel was a happy child when he would come to visit Sr Anna with his Mom. Israel was a child who had an ANGEL, from our diocese, who was supporting his medical care. This is a project of Sr Anna and a great financial aid to our medical needs for patients. We knew that a few weeks ago the Oncologist in Guatemala City had informed the family that the tumor had returned and there was no more treatment available except comfort care. His family was very sad. When we did not hear from them we felt he had died. Our visit to their very humble home confirmed this. Israel had died eight days ago. His young parents spoke about his death being in the arms of one of his aunts and he had died without pain. They truly missed him and spoke of how he was loved by all the neighbors and how he played with cars and balls as if he could see his world around him. Again we thank you for accompanying us in our work here in Guatemala. We could not do it without your generosity. I end this note by sharing a picture of ISRAEL and his MOM.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Feliza´s Diagnosis at last

Yesterday I was a bit sad as I waited to hear the result of a biopsy performed in Guatemala city on my young patient, Feliza! I had heard from the doctors that they had narrowed the results to Lymphoma or Tuberculosis and Monday they would know. I was concerned that Lymphoma was a disease that would be difficult if not impossible to cure and I prayed that it would be Tuberculosis. Today I was informed that it was Peritoneal Tuberculosis. Although Tuberculosis is no longer epidemic here and more commonly it is found in the lung, we are increasingly diagnosing this disease in our clinic. The Clinic Maxeña Laboratory performs the diagnostic sputum slides for several government clinics in the area. Malnutricion increases the incidence of Tuberculosis. The good news is that Tuberculosis can be cured.

The Doctor told me, by telephone, that tomorrow they would consult a specialist of Infectious disease to determine the most appropiate treatment and a Health Center closer to her home. Feliza has been ill for over a year and the reality that her disease was diagnosed after many diagnostic tests, several medical consults, and a surgical biopsy, is a victory for us. We strongly believe that Health Care is a Human Right for all people and we are pleased that we are able to provide her with an opportunity to heal and eventually return to school with her friends. Her medical care now will be medicine provided by the Government Tuberculosis program and if need she will be admitted to the Government Tuberculosis Hospital about two hours from our mission. She is severely malnourshed from this chronic disease so we are ready to accompany her until she is well. Again I thank you for your prayers and your financial assistance to our mission clinic which makes possible such miracles.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Feliza needs Prayers and Miracles- UPDATE

The story of Feliza is reality for the POOR. I succeeded in getting her admitted to the largest government hospital in Guatemala City and where I thought she would be quickly attended to. REALITY CHECK! Very little attention has been given to this acutely ill child. Her father is at her bedside from 8am to 5pm. They only allow mothers to stay during night and she had to stay with her other children and also would be afraid to be in the city.

The biggest obstacle has been, that the pediatric surgeon who so kindly assisted me in getting her admitted to his care, has not yet seen her on the ward. All the preliminary exams never arrived to the ward where she is a patient. It is now five days. The Resident doctors insist they did not have access to them. These exams were expensive diagnostic tests that we had done and that are vital for her care. Her father, Antonio, talks to us daily several times with the clinic cell phone we left with him. Saturday he sounded desperate and he related that her condition was failing and nothing was being done. I made an emergency trip to the city to see her on Sunday. I could not retrieve the diagnostic tests as they were left in the adjacent clinic with the doctor who got us the reference with the Pediatrician. It was Sunday but at least I could confirm to the residents that these reports were in Guatemala City and I would see that they arrive to the ward. I also could comfort the father and encourage patience through the person who accompanied me and who could speak the Indian dialect. I did call the Pediatric Surgeon, a bit evasive, but assured me that he would be doing a biopsy for definite diagnosis and not to worry. I sent a clinic person to the hospital today and he also retrieved the diagnostic tests that were still with the othe doctor in another hospital! It has been five days!! He was able to visit the Social Worker and assure that the father could stay in the temporary house near the hospital without charge. One night the father was not given a bed and he had to stay in a cheap room in a not too safe area of the city. He stayed on the floor in a room with three other men he did not know but said he felt safer than if on the street. The cost of the room was less than a dollar.

Feliza does seem to be eating better and though she has received little medication her feet were less swollen and she had minimal fever but still pain and ascities. I returned home frustrated but at peace that she did not seem to be dying and it seemed for now the best place to be for a more certain diagnosis.

Again Feliza needs prayers, a lttle miracle and an ANGEL!!