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Brigade 2023: Palabras de los voluntarios: Stephanie

Updated: Jun 23, 2023

" Hi! This is Stephanie and this is my first trip with OCHO. Our travel day started with meeting at the airport at 3:30 am. We went through Miami and had a bit of a delay getting out of SPS due to some diligent officials questioning the contents of some of the bags. Then it was another 2-ish hours on a school bus (with police escorts!) to get to our home base.

We are staying in a church "campus" which has 3 buildings: the sanctuary which has 3 rooms under it where 10 of us sleep. Down some steep steps is a building with a kitchenette, 4 rooms, bathrooms and a porch. There are also 3 bathing stalls outside. Next to the sanctuary is a covered patio with 3 bathrooms and a shower.

We have a short, steep walk to where we eat. Our meals are prepared by some lovely ladies and we eat at tables on the patio or inside at the dining room. Next door is a convenience store. We are frequently watched by adorable neighborhood kids and hopeful stray dogs.

Our first clinic day was right in this town at the school. We arrived to find about 50 people already waiting patiently. We have a team of Honduran community volunteers who helped with registering and escorting patients to the providers. I got a little emotional when I thought about what a big day it was for all of us, and how they were quietly and patiently waiting. Quite a contrast from my experience in the U.S. as a former ER nurse.

I have been involved in triaging the patients and the process was not the most efficient at first; but, we were able to refine the process and keep things rolling.

Down the hall were 5 classrooms that served as individual or shared exam rooms, one for each specialty: rheumatology/internal medicine, optometry, dermatology, gynecology and pediatrics. People waited in a line of chairs outside their clinic for their turn. We also had a room for the pharmacy, which was staffed by the teens in the volunteer group.

I spent some time in the afternoon interpreting for Rebecca, an NP in the rheumatology/internal medicine clinic. Some of what we saw there included arthritis, clogged ears, knee draining and cortisone injections, orthopedic concerns, and more.

We got a brief tropical storm at the end of the work day that knocked out power for the next 24 hours. There was no damage to our home base town, but fortunately our neighbor pool hall and their stereo system were quieted for the evening. We all slept well.

Our second clinic day was at a town called Vueltosa, about 30 minutes away. We streamlined our triage process even more and I was able to get more detailed medical histories for the providers. Some things that stood out were how some of the people looked much older than they were, but they were so grateful for our help. I remember a women pregnant with her fourth who never had any prenatal care, who was able to get an ultrasound and a good supply of folic acid. There was also an older man who had been hit by a motorcycle and probably had broken ribs. A homeless lady joined the queue and left with anti-inflammatoires for a shoulder injury, water, AND something to eat.

My highlights of clinic day 2 were watching my 15 year old do sidewalk chalk with a group of kids and teach them "duck duck goose," and being gifted a bag of mangoes by a 6 yr old named Alex. We gifted him a soccer ball in return.

And just as we had lost power at the end of clinic the day before, it came back on right after clinic finished."

-- Stephanie Felton, BSN, RN, Bel Air,MD



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