First day at the clinic

June 3rd, 2017 by Sean Mark

Today was my first day working at Clinica Esperanza in Roatan, Honduras. I was greeted this morning by the clinic coordinator and given a tour of the clinic facilities. Clinica Esperanza offers a diversity of services to the people of Roatan including general medical evaluations, primary care, pediatric care, Ob/Gyn, and dentistry. It is equipped with many exam rooms, a small birthing center for uncomplicated births, ultrasound, a pharmacy, a laboratory for basic lab work, and electronic medical records. The staff members are all very friendly and gave me a warm welcome on my first day.

 

The clinic coordinator deputized me with this volunteer t-shirt

 

I started the day shadowing with Dr. Ashley Flowers to learn how the clinic is run from the physician’s perspective. She is a Honduran trained general physician who speaks both Spanish and English (like most of the staff at the clinic). We worked in the general medical clinic area which sees a mixture of primary care follow up as well as urgent care patients. We saw a number of common medical issues that are also seen frequently in the United States such as Diabetes, hypertension, headache, cellulitis, and back pain. We also saw several pregnant patients who receive all of their prenatal care at Clinica Esperanza. Most of the patients spoke Spanish and I was pleased when I was able to understand a good amount of their conversation. Dr. Ashley was kind enough to explain in English the parts I didn’t understand.

 

After seeing a number of patients and starting to get a hang of the clinic procedures, Dr. Ashley allowed me to see one of the English speaking patients on my own. Although the island is part of Honduras, it was actually owned by the English at one point and there are many families that have been on the island a long time that still primarily speak English. I was a little shaky at first trying to figure out the electronic medical record but after a few pointers from Dr. Ashley I was able complete the patient encounter without problems. It was surreal to sign my name Sean Mark M.D. at the bottom of my notes for the first time. I ate lunch with several of the clinic staff and I was able to practice my Spanish with them. It has been such a blessing to be in an environment where I am forced to speak and understand Spanish. This type of immersion experience is what I have been waiting for ever since I took my Spanish classes in college.

 

The clinic serves as a safety net medical home for many of the Honduran immigrants that live nearby in “la colonia” which is the name for their neighborhood that translates to “the colony”. Many of the families in this neighborhood live in poverty.  The cost for a general medical clinic visit is 100 Lempiras which is a little less than $5 so that it is affordable for nearly everyone in the community. The clinic also has teams that go out into the nearby community to do health promotion and disease prevention work among the people. I am excited to have the opportunity to serve the poor in the clinic but also in their homes during my time here.

 

This evening I have had time alone in my room at the backpacker’s hostel to think, pray, study my Spanish. I have been using the notes from my old Spanish teacher, Mr. Metzger, who actually lived in Honduras for a number of years. It has been a blessing to have time to relax and reflect on all the Lord has done in my life the last 6 years during medical school. Sometimes in the busyness of kids, work, and American culture we forget to reflect and thank Jesus for his faithfulness. I am so grateful for how he has led me by his strong hand. I praise the Lord for his goodness and look forward to all he has in store during this trip.