Saturday, August 27, 2011

What is the significance of a DOOR!

Friends and Family,
Our clinic door has been deteriorating with the years. Every morning, five days a week, it is opened at 6am, by the night janitors, to welcome patients who rise early for a number to see our doctor. Today a new, varnished door, made from scratch from a cedar tree of a near by community, was finally hung by two of our maintenance team, Diego and Pedro. Pedro is a young carpenter, who has worked in the clinic the last two years; he has worked with great care for the last two months to complete his task. It is a beautiful door and we are all pleased and proud of our OPEN DOOR! Thank you Pedro!

As mission people, serving the POOR, it is important our door to our clinic and to our hearts is always open. Daily more and more poor have health needs. We are daily concerned how we are going to serve all those who knock on our door. Today a young man of 34 years came with appearing first symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Many people in his community are praying for his recovery. Wednesday we will take him to a Neurologist in the next town. Tomas, a former worker of our clinic, is suffering from terminal cancer. We will accompany him on his journey now as a hospice patient. Manuela is 14 years old; she was sexually abused and gave birth by caesarean. She does not have sufficient breast milk so we will supplement her infant with formula. Her mother is very supportive, and since she too is breast feeding another child, she is both mother and grandmother to this infant. Thank You for accompanying us in our journey to serve all those who knock on our door.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Intestinal Parasites still very present in our World

Family and Friends,
In the sixties when we opened our clinic, parasites was one of our main diagnosis. People did not wear shoes, so hook worm was common. Potable water was almost non existent in the mountain villages, higiene a real challenge, so many different species of worms were present. Bloated stomachs, diarrhea and abdominal pain were very common in children. Our diagnostic lab was mostly symptomatic in those years, although early on we did have a small antique microscope and our pormotors and we the nurses were able to diagnose the different eggs of parasites. We would go out to the villages with gallons of worm medicine and all the chiildren got a dose.

Times have change. We have an excellent doctor, a very good diagnostic laboratory. Everyone wear shoes, although usually the plastic sandals; most villages do have access to water, though poorly maintained, contaminated systems. Out door letrines, out houses, would be more common, although many of the poor still lack this human necessity in some villages. Parasites still do exist. Amoebas are probably the most common intestinal parasite diagnosed in our clinic laborartory; ascaris, round worm, is still present in small children, but not that common. Ascaris is the parasite that can still cause havoc for a child; it can cause much abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea, when worms multiply in the intestinal system.

Friday, a seven year old child arrived to our emergency room; her name is Wendy, certainly not a common Mayan name. She was weak and crying with abdominal pain. Other acute diagnosis were eliminated and the laboratory confirmed ascaris. The child was admitted to our clinic and hydration and pain meds administered by our doctor and antiparasitic medication. With the pain medication the abdominal cramping became less intense and she was able to sleep at intervals. She has had to stay the weekend and our doctor will stop by today, even though it is Sunday. She has expelled a few of the parasites. The parents are with her twenty four hours, caring for her every need. In the absence on weekends of our clinic workers, I provide the meals for her parents and the medications and care for her. She is one of nine children and the father, like most field workers, is unemployed. When he arrived, he told me immediately, he had no money. This is not the issue for us though reality is our clinic is having economic issues with more and more charity patients. In this instance we will have the father work in our garden next week for a few days to pay for medication and in patient costs. We rely on our friends and support for our Mission to help us help others! THANK YOU!!

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Attached is a photo of Wendy and her mom and COCO, my dog. Wendy is much improved with intermittent pain and eating a bit. The doctor may request an ultra sound if pain is not gone tomorrow.

Diagnosis by Ultrasound also showed HEPATITIS. Parasites also still a diagnosis. . Wendys ultrasound cost to clinic was sixty dollars. Thank you for your help to cure WENDY.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A long walk for Medical Help!

Friends and Family,
Friday morning early a young married man of 26 years arrived at the clinic doorstep, strapped to a chair, carried by his father and brother. They live in a remote village, high in the mountains, with only twenty families. This village would be one of the original Mayan mountain villages. The family desperate to see their son cured carried him in the chair for four hours then went in the back of a truck for twenty minutes to our clinic. There is no medical help or pharmacy where they live. They had heard of our clinic through a health promotor that worked in our Medicinal Plant clinic many years ago. Diego, had fever for over ten days with only tylenol tablets for relief.

Transportation and roads have definitely improved over the years. Most villages do have roads and many pickups and cars. Prosperity for purchase of vehicles and better homes is related to migration of undocumented men to the United States who managed to send money home or returned with savings to improve their lives here. There are, however, some villages isolated from roads and electricity yet.

The town of Santo Tomas now has an ambulance for the community and our clinic utilizes this valuable service. Years ago many patients arrived strapped to chairs and carried in to our parish clinic, mostly chronic illness that had gone untreated. So it was an unusual happening when Diego arrived for consult to our clinic, strapped to a chair, carried by his father. Our doctor ordered lab tests, hidration, and medications. The patient and family agreed to stay over night. Lab results did not give a definite diagnosis and we were hoping Diego would agree to stay the weekend so we obtain further diagnostic tests. His Dengue test was negative but this disease often does not manifest positive for some days, and the doctor had wanted to follow up. The patient wanted to go home to his family; he left this morning stronger, without fever for 24 hours. We provided antibiotic injections and other medications if the fever should return. Another change in society is cell phones. the brother did provide me his number and the doctor will follow up by phone on Monday. They agreed to return if his symptoms of fever return. Diego walked out of the clinic and down the road with his brother carrying the empty chair. We were glad we were able to priovide his care in our clinic. Thank You for your donations who assist us to provide medical care at minimal cost and when necessary free of charge. Have a good day!

A photo of Diego, his father and brother and when they departed from the clinic, walking down our road, now carrying the chair.

Send donation on line at or
send to
Guatemala Mission
Diocese of Helena
PO Box 1729
Helena, MT
Note for Clinica Maxena.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Presidential Candidates come to our area¡

Friends and Family,
Presidential elections will happen on September 11, 2011. Violence has plagued the candidates of several parties and there have been assasinations in some communities. There also has been constitutional battles and today the candidate, Sandra Torres, wife of actual President of Guatemala, was disqualified. She was in second place and this has now shook up the race.

As foriegners and also Church people, we do not become involved in politics of the country. When I was back in the United States for many years and involved with a solidarity organization, a voice for the injustices of the Guatemalan people, I did become acquainted with one of the present Presidential candidates, Rigoberta Menchu, Nobel Peace Laureate from Guatemala. She visited Seattle, Washington, where I was living and I did feel honored to know her. I decided to go to the rally in one of our communities, to listen, and say hello to her. I was glad I did.

We ask for prayers as this dear country holds Presidential and Congressional elections next month, that there will be a decrease of violence and more justice and Health and Educational Programs to benefit the poor. We ask your prayers that leaders chosen in a democratic election will represent the interests of all Guatemalans. Thank You¡


Friends and Family,
We have been blessed to have had a very special employee in the Clinica Maxena for many years; Tomas Lopez retired in January 2010 at 75 years of age. He had worked for the mission for 42 years. He lives amidst his 8 children, grandchildren and great grandchildren in a small community, but with all their homes built together! They are truly a family. Their doors are always open to one another and persons in need. They now number more than sixty in their family compound!

Tomas left the clinic to enjoy retirement and to continue to volunteer in the church and community and to spend more time enjoying life and family. Tomas is a Eucharistic minister and visits the sick. A few months ago he was diagnosed with Liver Cancer. Miraculously so far he has had little pain. He is in evaluation in the Cancer Hospital in the city for more diagnostic tests, and discussion of treatment. Yesterday he had a biopsy and will return today to his family.

When we began our service in the Clinica Maxeña, more that 45 years ago, Cancer was not a diagnosis that was a health issue. It has been in the last few years that monthly we have more and more patients with this diagnosis; perhaps it is because our clinic does more diagnostic tests but also the reality that the diets of the people have changed and include much more chemicals and fast foods. Papanicolau exams are offered monthly for seven dollars in the Clinica Maxeña. We have had several women diagosed with cervical or uterine cancer and treated with radiation and sometimes chemotherapy, with success. We ask patients who can afford their trips to city, diagnostic tests and treatment, to provide their own expenses. We do accompany the poor with treatments and hospice comfort care, when needed. The health needs of the poor are more complex now and more expensive. The clinic's mission is to accompany the most poor in their health needs. We feel blessed to walk this journey and ask for your continued generosity as you walk with us. Blessings and THANKS from all of us. sheila

Attatched is a picture of Tomas, returning from his journey to the Cancer Hospital, accompanied by his two sons, Martin and Jose. Martin is head of Pastoral Health for the clinic and in charge of Maintenance.

Your donation on line helps the Clinica Maxena accompany the most poor patients in treatments and diagnostic tests. We who have been given much, much is expected of us!

Thank YOU. Donate on line at Note for the Clinica Maxena.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Violence near HOME

Friends and Family,
This past week violence came close to home. First there was the town alarm going off about 9pm on Wednesday, alerting the population that there was an emergency in town. One of the night clinic janitors went up to check on it. A nine year old girl was sexually abused by three young men, apparently on drugs. She was taken to the hospital and they caught two of the youths responsible and were taken to the next city to jail. Today the little gal came to see our doctor, with mostly headaches and psychological trauma. Her parents were with her and our doctor attended to her. She was able to relate the incident.

Extorsions and assasinations of bus drivers has been a reality all over the country, and though a history here, it had not been a major issue. This was true as many chose to pay the extorsion but others not. A threat came by anonymous phone call and they did not respond. Last night a bus was attacked on our road. A sixteen year old teen age gal passenger died from gunshot wound to the head and the chofer of the bus is wounded and hospitalized. Our road into town today has military and police presence.

Today and tomorrow there are presidential candidates visiting our area. Pray for peace and justice for this dear country and its beautiful people. They deserve it. Thank You!