On this trip to Panama, our team hit the ground running. We combined the supplies we brought with those left from the May 2016 Panama trip and quickly got organized. Everyone on our team learned how to take blood pressures, measure the length of babies, and all about the community education classes we will be teaching during the week.
The first day of clinic was in a school where we had several classrooms in which to set up our stations. Our translators joined us and patients lined up quickly to see us for a variety of symptoms. Dr. Mor, the local dentist we work with at IMR clinics in Panama, took care of the teeth for both adults and children and made several very necessary extractions. We gave the kids fluoride treatments to try and protect their teeth from the cavities that plague so many of them.
Our community education team helped our patients understand the importance of sanitation and hygiene to protect themselves from illnesses. Our creative team leaders demonstrated how germs spread by “sneezing” glitter into each other’s faces. We also taught the children the importance of brushing their teeth.
We traveled to different remote areas of the country throughout the week and visited with patients that have very limited access to healthcare. We treated stomachaches (and got very good at diagnosing and dispensing medication for acid reflux), parasites, scabies, contact dermatitis, fungal infections, and pneumonia. We also handed out plenty of reading glasses, which left our patients overjoyed to be able to see objects clearly up close.
During a slower part of the day, one of the doctors took a break from seeing patients to teach a few of our team members about assessing a patient during triage. Learning experiences such as these are just part of what make IMR medical missions as valuable to the volunteers as they are to the patients.
“I was ecstatic when I found out I was assigned to shadow Dr. Holly for the day. Watching her at work is an incredible and eye-opening experience for any medical student because she is just so passionate about what she does!” – Namarik, med student and Team Panama Volunteer
We closed our week by taking a cultural excursion to Panama City and got to witness an enormous container ship making its way through the Miraflores locks. We were so appreciative of our experience in Panama and being able to provide healthcare for people who might not otherwise be able to receive it. We hope to be back in Panama again soon.