Though I was sick with food poisoning the first time the GROW team went to Jose Galvez hospital in La Tablada, I was able to go back with everyone and spend the morning in the Tuberculosis ward. It was very interesting and eye-opening to meet some of the patients that come to Jose Galvez to receive their medicines for TB because most had come from distant parts of Peru. I talked to a young man named Ricardo who had come from a long way, from his rural village in the jungle all the way to Lima when he found out he was infected with TB. He told me about how TB awareness in rural Peru is not very high, and thus when his friend at work was infected he didn’t realize it could have possibly been TB until he was infected himself and diagnosed by a doctor after he coughed up blood.
TB treatment, while free at Jose Galvez, is highly expensive and this is why people travel to Lima from such remote parts of Peru. The treatment also can take up to two years, and while patients can work again after the first six months of treatment, not working for so long can be a challenge for many patients. In addition to many antibiotic pills, shots must also be injected as well as part of the treatment. A kind nurse working at the ward told me that many patients lose hope after infected with TB, thinking that they are going to die and that they really don’t have many options, even though they are already being treated. Such fatalism is a challenge for the medical staff, who want to provide healthcare for these patients, but wonder how they can raise awareness, given the fact that many patients don’t follow up with their treatments according to schedule.
Below is a photo of Joey Starnes and I with the nurse in the TB ward.
After a long day of sorting medicine at Dios Es Amor, the GROW interns headed to the Jose Galvez public hospital adjacent to La Tablada to learn a little more about public health care in this region. One of the nurses who accompanied us to Paracas showed us around the hospital. Although small, the hospital seemed to meet every need that a patient would have. They had a maternity ward, pediatric facilities, dentistry, psychiatry, and even social workers on call. The entire hospital is run on funds from the government and NGOs. The nurses there are superwomen because not only is there a lack of doctors available, but also there is no computerized database for patient documents. This requires the nurses to spend double the amount of time documenting patients and making sure they receive the proper treatments. It was interesting to see that the hospital has an entire section dedicated to patients with Tuberculosis (TB). Currently, there are about 30 total cases of TB, 18 of which are multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB, the majority being children. Also, for lack of education and other resources, many of the citizens of La Tablada and the neighboring districts do not vaccinate their children. As a result, nurses make house calls to ensure all newborns are properly vaccinated. Despite some disadvantages, the entire hospital staff is incredibly passionate and dedicated to the work that they do on a daily basis. The director of the hospital has invited us to shadow some doctors later this week to gain a more realistic experience of the care provided here.
A picture of La Tablada.
On Sunday, June 9th Dios Es Amor hosted a public health campaign in Paracas, Peru. Over 80 patients from this coastal community were able to see a very dedicated doctor to receive medical care. All of the patients were given some form of medication or dietary supplement, showing the critical healthcare needs of the community. Thanks to GlobeMed and Dios Es Amor, some of the people that came to the campaign were able to see a doctor for the first time in years, which is especially important considering that many of the patients were children, as well as the elderly. In the above photo GROW interns Joey Starnes and John Foley give a lecture about health, or “salud” in three easy steps. 1) Nutrition-we mentioned how a diet rich in fruits and vegetables as well as meat and grains is important to consume all the necessary vitamins your body needs for growth. This fact is sometimes not heeded in these communities where rice and potatoes reign supreme. Although these vegetables contain the vital energy one needs to survive, they certainly do not provide enough vitamins for a growing body. Some of the children in this area have come to the campaigns that Dios Es Amor hosts with anemia caused by a lack of vitamins, and thus vitamin supplements are commonly given out to parents of young children. 2) Exercise. We discussed the importance of physical activity in one’s daily life, whether it be taking a walk around the neighborhood or going out to play soccer with your friends. Exercise is key to preventing many long-term diseases, as well as boosting your immune system. We talked about how exercise also helps you feel better, and gives you more energy that you’d otherwise have staying sedentary all day. Lastly, 3) Prevention. There are many ways that people in this community can take to prevent themselves from getting sick, such as boiling their water before consuming it, not leaving water in containers exposed (due to the risks of mosquito-borne Dengue virus in this area), or not ignoring their illnesses. If they feel sick, they need to discuss this with their doctor, especially at the health campaigns. We discussed how they would not be judged or treated meanly by the doctor or Dios Es Amor staff, and that we were only there to help them. All in all, the campaign was a huge success, and all of the patients left with medicine, a snack, and a smile on their face. We were thanked personally by many of the visitors, which made the whole experience even more rewarding.
In order to prepare for the campaign, Joey and John spent hours sorting medicines to make sure expired medicine will not be prescribed on the campaign this sunday.
GROW Intern Anum Lalani designing posters for Dios Es Amor’s campaign in Paracas on this sunday, June 9th. Eight of these posters were made to show Dios Amor’s goals for the campaign.
Some of the many medicines that will be brought to the campaign on sunday.
A kind doctor who grew up in La Tablada (the neighborhood where Dios Es Amor is located) came last weekend to offer free medical care for members of the community who needed glasses. In total, over a dozen members of the community were given glasses.
This is a supply of donated glasses that were given to those in need who came to a free optometry screening last sunday at Dios Es Amor.
The sunshine reflected on the floor shows how much brighter the room is after painting.
Note the difference between this photo and the after photo in how the dining room looks.
With the paining project finished, take a look at the difference between how the dining room looks before painting and after. After it is much brighter, vibrant, and inviting to the children and members of the community and staff that will come to eat in Dios Es Amor.
GROW interns Brony Long and Anum Lalani helping to cover things that didn’t need painting with plastic.
The first week on GROW all interns helped out in a large painting project. In the photo above, GROW Interns John Foley and Joey Starnes painting the dining room at our project site, Dios Es Amor. This project involved a lot of work, including sanding the walls and ceilings of the room before painting, brushing off the dust, smoothing over the walls with a spatula, then applying a two coats of white paint to the ceiling, two coats of a bright yellow coat to the walls, and two coats of red to the trim along the floor. The end product turned out beautifully, and transformed the dining room into a much more vibrant, bright, and cheerful room where children and staff members of Dios Es Amor will be able to eat and drink coffee for many years to come. The project took more than two full days of work, and involved a lot of patience, precision, and dedication in order to minimize paint spills and later cleanup work. Luckily a boombox was available to pump out Raggaeton and Latin music as we worked, helping to motivate us and made the experience a lot more fun. The next blog post will feature a photo of the finished dining room. Stay tuned!