My last day at Clinica Esperanza
June 16th, 2017 by Sean Mark
Yesterday I had my last day working at Clinica Esperanza. However, I didn’t let that stop me from having new and inspiring experiences. I had the opportunity to venture out into the community with Dr. Stacy who is the leader of community outreach for Clinica Esperanza. She runs a program that works with local community health workers who live in various poor rural communities throughout the island that have poor access to medical care. Dr. Stacy is originally from Roatan but she studied medicine at a medical school in Cuba where there is an emphasis on health promotion and prevention of disease. After her schooling, she had to fulfill two years of service in Honduras to obtain her license to practice. She spent one year in rural communities and one year in the hospital to see which one she liked more. After these two years, she decided that preventative medicine was her passion so she joined the staff at Clinica Esperanza to pursue this passion.
As we were driving to the community for the day (called Mud Hole) I noticed that the road turned from a paved road into a dirt road with many rocks and potholes (ironic I know). We pulled up to a small convenience store where we were dropped off by our driver from the clinic. Dr. Stacy and I grabbed our two backpacks that had a few medical tools and a few medications including vitamins and albendazole which treats parasites. We found our local health promoter (called a “promotora” in Spanish) who actually owns the local convenience store. She had a folder with her that had all of the homes of her community mapped out and it also contained forms with health information about the children who lived in the neighborhood.
We started walking through the community going from house to house talking with the people. Our main goal for the day was to weigh all of the children in the community 5 years and younger with a portable digital scale to make sure that the kids were growing appropriately and getting the nutrients they needed. If we encountered a child or an adult who was sick, Dr. Stacy would have me perform a brief medical evaluation and then we would counsel the family about what they needed to do to care for their sick family member. We passed out children’s vitamins to several families and we gave deworming medication (albendazole) to others. We kept a record of all the things we did so the community health worker could keep track of the health of the individuals in her community. Dr. Stacy was also familiar with the people of the community and she would check up on the adults whom she knew had health problems such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
It was neat to see how the program worked to care for the needs of the community. I really believe we need to have more of this type of work in the United States where we actually visit people’s homes to better address all of their needs instead of what we see on the surface when they come into a hospital or clinic. Just like when I visited the poor village with Pastor David, I saw that any good community development movement requires people on the ground that live in the community and are invested in its improvement.
After walking around the community for several hours, we called for our driver to come pick us up and headed back to the convenience store. Dr. Stacy discussed the things we had done with the local community health worker and told her the things that still needed to be done after we left. After we got into the car to drive away, I talked to Dr. Stacy more about her community health projects. I learned she coordinated public health efforts for 10 communities like the one we went to and she is hoping to adopt several more in the near future. I was inspired by this comprehensive approach that the staff at Clinica Esperanza had for caring for their patients and the communities in which their patients were living. They were able to mobilize local health care workers in each community that could keep a close watch on the health of the communities and recognize any problems early so they could be addressed right away to prevent escalation. I hope to use this same approach in my future career in medical service and community development.
After we got back from our trip to the community, I walked around the clinic to take final pictures and help out where I could. I also wanted to wait for the founder of the clinic, Ms. Peggy, who was flying in that afternoon from a short trip to visit family in the United States. Thankfully, Ms. Peggy decided to stop by the clinic before heading home and I had the chance to meet her. She had brought two suitcases full of supplies from the US for the clinic so I helped her unload the supplies and put them where they needed to go. Ms. Peggy was greeted lovingly by all of the clinic staff who had obviously missed her during her absence. She really serves as a leader and mother for the staff of the clinic. When she found out I was leaving the next morning to return home, she invited all of the volunteers to go out to dinner that night at local restaurant to thank me for my service and have more time to visit.
That night at the restaurant I got to hear a little more from Ms. Peggy about the vision for the clinic and the exciting things God had been doing. She really made it clear that it was a work of the Lord that provided the means to make the clinic a reality. She is an older woman and pointed out that there is no way “an old lady like me” could have done this without Jesus. It was encouraging to hear and see all that the Lord had done in her life as she yielded to his leadership. After telling her how my wife Kirsten and I have a passion to do missions together using medicine and education, she even gave me suggestions about next steps with people she knows in Honduras and other places. It was a blessing to talk with her and brainstorm about what the Lord is calling me to next. I pray I will grow up to be like Peggy and not let my age or any other excuses prevent me from serving the forgotten people of the world. We only have a short time on this earth to live for the glory of God and we have to make every year count. I pray that Jesus will give me strength to love him and serve him until my last breath.