Sunday, August 7, 2016

Working from Within

 July 6, 2016
Photo taken from Mexican Destinos website.

This is my 8th year of coming to San Cris to work with Don Sergio and I have seen some beautiful changes develop, albeit very slow from US cultural perspective, it is nonetheless in the making and  hopeful. I have learned my place in this process.

When I started working with Don Sergio I saw much that could be done to improve things and I wanted to jump in and help out but I'm not here day-in and day-out. So, by my own means I kept returning, supporting and attended to people along-side Don Sergio and doing what I can by being aware of what they need: NOT what I THINK they need.  When formulating this sentence, it is the epiphany that all of us need to accept when coming from 'our world' into 'their world' wanting to help. 

Don Sergio's day time assistant is a nurse, Anita, that has not been paid for 6 months from her nursing job at a community women's' hospital. She started working with Don Sergio on the morning rounds and he pays her when he can. She is smart, confident, aware, mature and attentive. Anita is a single Mom with 3 children and is aware of the fluctuation of Don Sergio's financial dependency on others, so when he doesn't have money, she continues to work with him, knowing funds will arrive some day.  Pure trust.

In the evening, one medical student, Cesar, and a nursing student, Edith, come in to help Don Sergio. Cesar is in his 2nd year of medical school and when he has free time he is always working with Don Sergio. Even on the weekends.  Edith, is there every evening. She lives far away but takes a collectivo to be at the evening clinic. She is shy, quite, smart and takes in everything.  Don Sergio pays Edith when he can and occasionally he will give Cesar a few pesos. Cesar asks for nothing and has family support.
L>R: Don Sergio, Edith, Cesar.

Cesar wants to come to the US in a year or two during summer break and learn how we, in the US, practice medicine. Edith wants to be able to finish her nursing training. It is very possible both may one day be the successors to Sergio's clinic.  Don Sergio is 75 years old and still has great compassionate energy but he will not live forever.  Cesar and Edith are constants that can step in as healthcare professionals, they are both Coletos (locals born here - which is important), and are building trust of the patients and community with their dedication.

Cesar is in his 2nd yr of med school in San Cris. Ethan has applied to US med school this year.
Our roll is to facilitate their needs; observe, listen, accept, support and follow through. They know what they need and we need to be there for them.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed on all levels and those who, in the future, will.

Posted by Patricia Ferrer, PA-C.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Sergio Presents to the Local Medical School

L>R: Elsa, Don Sergio, Ethan.

Cesar and his girlfriend Lupe (both 2nd year medical students) invited Don Sergio to talk to their peers at the local medical school UNICH.  Sergio asked me to bring the video, El Andalon, to show the students then afterwards he'd say a few words about caring for wounds and burns.

Display put up by Cesar and Lupe about the care Don Sergio provides.
Sergio was clearly nervous, which was refreshing to see: indicative of the importance of speaking to future local health professionals. After the film, he quickly went into a dialog of how best to assess and treat burns, then onto ulcers. I never seen Don Sergio talk so much. If he knew how to do a powerpoint he may have talked for hours.

Don Sergio talking about burn and wound care.
The university emphasizes cultural awareness of the local indigenous population and opened the medical school 3 years ago.  It will take a total of 6 years for Cesar and Lupe to finish their training, then one year of social service to obtain their medical degree.

Sergio and his wife, Elsa.

Sixteen medical students came to the lecture.
L>R: Don Sergio, Cesar, Lupe.

A special thank you to Veremos Productions, Consuelo Alba and John Speyer for their generosity of creating this well told story of Don Sergio and his work.

Posted by Patricia Ferrer, PA-C.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

School Construction

Escuela 5th of marzo

The small center room with the sheet metal roof is the nurses exam room, being completed soon.
The situation in this part of Mexico is on shaky ground with the 'bloqueados' (road blocks). From what I'm told, teachers are protesting for the rights to teach children what they need to learn in life to do well for themselves and to know their rights. Some teachers have been paid and some have not; same for healthcare professionals. A nurse I know was only partially paid. I would imagine if this happened in the US, there would be a major revolucion.  Just imagine what it is like for everyone here.  Nonetheless, those suffering at this moment are the minds of children not being educated at all.

The library, currently is also being used as the ground keeper residence.
Another view of the library.
Recent educational math activities remain on the board.
Outside the grounds-keeper's home.
Don Sergio's 5th of marzo school project continues and the community it serves is involved with the school and they remain open with the exception of summer break. So, for now construction continues.  Sergio has completed the latrines and the school library, there is a room for a school nurse and he is completing a home for the school's grounds-keeper.  This school complex has been in the making for 6 years now....typical poco a poco.

Completing the ground keepers home.
Fortunately, for Don Sergio, foreigners have stepped up to help. One couple, R&L, have generously donated a nice sum to help complete the library, nurses room, water pump for the latrines and roof.  Then, out of the blue, Don Sergio was contacted by a newly formed US solar company to see if they can donate solar panels for one of his projects. They worked out a visit to San Cris while on a family vacation, visited with Don Sergio and took a tour of the school and all agreed it is an excellent place to add the solar panels. Everyone is happy about this as there is only one business in San Cris that has solar panels, this will be the second and it is a community school.  All are excited about not being dependent on the city's electricity. For those that may not know, electricity is very expensive here.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Summer 2016: Indiegogo Generosity Campaign

Ethan presents our mock up five thousand USDs award raised via the Indiegogo Generosity Campaign.

Our 2nd annual fundraising campaign, thanks to everyone who donated, was an absolute success! Our goal of $5000 USDs was reached and we are able to help fund Don Sergio over the next year.  As usual, he is grateful to all his friends that continue to support him and his work.  The never-ending influx of patients with burns and wounds seems endless and all donations help reduce the suffering in this part of the world.

At this time we have a 2 and a half-year-old that was pushed into a tub of hot water by her brother, which burned her back, legs and genitalia.  These are first-degree burns (epidermal blisters) and superficial second-degree burns (the superficial portion of the dermis).  These types of burns are so painful and although the little girl cries when we change her bandages, she lets us do our job. We do it as quickly and smoothly as possible.  The poverty she, her family and neighbors live in astounds us: no clean water, no toilets, they cook with wood, the walls are thin planks, and discarded items are used in any way possible for shelter. There is no waste for the poor; they find utility in everything, just as nature does.

Neighborhood kids wait for us to finish our burn care for the 2 1/2 y/o girl.

30% of her body surface area was burned, 1st and superficial 2nd degree burns.

Anita, a nurse works with Don Sergio M - F for his morning rounds. She has not been paid at her hospital job in 6 months. She has 3 children ages 12, 9, and 4. Sergio pays her what he can, when he can.

Summer 2016: Effects of the road blocks

Flowers at Bela's are in full bloom.

This summer trip finds Sergio with good energy and nice support so that he can complete his local projects.  As usual, on the medicine side, we see the same health problems but different people.  As for the local turmoil, teachers and healthcare professionals are striking and protesting and have control of the flow of traffic in and out of the San Cris.

Ethan and I arrived Tuesday night with a few glitches but we knew everything would work out.  Our taxi driver What'sApp'd us and said he could not pick us up at the airport. So when we arrived in Tuxtla at 630pm it turned out the OCC bus was getting ready to depart to San Cris and unknown to us, we purchased the last 2 seats (the bus was packed). Eleven kilometers outside of San Cris we had to detour via a dirt road to get on the old highway into the city.  Safely we arrived at Bela's around 9pm.

Driving against traffic, these are the lines to get into the gas station, double file.
We had been aware of the recent protesting and violence in Oaxaca and although we did not see any protesting, we definitely experienced the effects. Teachers and health professionals (to my understanding have not been paid) create road blocks which prevent certain items to come in and out of the city. Tourism numbers are low and gasoline is limited. The lines at gas stations are long and they run out quickly. We cannot go out to the communities so we only treat the local patients....keeps us busy enough!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Progress at a snails pace

January 24, 2016

In some parts of the world progress moves at a snails pace...or as Don Sergio says, 'poco a poco'.

I am back home now after spending 2 weeks with Sergio in San Cristobol.  It was a rewarding visit finding Sergio well and busy.  Below are some thoughts I have about the state of Sergio's mission.

The Supply Line
Don Sergio is always in need of burn and wound care supplies. He can never have enough gauze, gauze wraps, ointment and gloves. Thankfully, there is a Tucson organization where I can request these items and check them as luggage when I visit him. Also, my medical network seems to come through when I request items they no longer need and a friendly physician who ships me boxes of good, unused supplies from Michigan throughout the year (Thank You, Dr. Beckmyer).

Some supplies I repack as tightly as possible and have friends (Thank You, Alejandra) who visit family in Mexico and postal ship them from Sonora. This system has worked well and supplements Sergio's inventory.  He does have friends from France that send him creams and other items as well.

The Help
L>R: friend of the team, Nataly, Esmeralda, Deborah and Edith.
Edith, is now in nursing school and doing well. She continues to help Sergio on a regular basis. I believe her nursing school is 5 years long and this is her first year. She had recruited a few others students to come help as well and they love it. They love the hands-on care and knowing they are making a difference in their community working along side Don Sergio.

Alfonso also continues to help Sergio. His unwavering admiration and respect is palpable. He has decided to pursue an engineering degree in San Cris and help Don Sergio until his compadre Cesar completes his medical training. Alfonso told me he looks to Don Sergio as a wise grandfather and spends most evenings working with him.
L>R: Sergio, Juanito, Alfonso.
Cesar, El General, is in his second year of med school and is doing well. Only when he is on break is he able to come help Sergio. He says his studies are going well and he is learning so much about medicine and loves it. He will be an exceptional physician!

Newbies: Esmeralda, Deborah, and Nataly. Esmeralda has a permanent smile on her face and is in nursing school with Edith. Nataly is a gymnastic teacher and helps in the evenings as well. She took up running a year and a half ago and has run 2 marathons already...she's a natural athlete.  She usually comes in the top 10 of various races...usually 15 to 42 kilometers. She was there most nights these past two weeks. Deborah is 15 years old and loves to hang out and hand out supplies to everyone working. I love the feeling of camaraderie and family that has developed over the years.

Gymnastic teacher and runner by day, volunteer at night.

Iker has been gone for almost a year now. He's ridden his bicycle over 9000 kilometers and is putting on another 3000 more as he heads to Usuiasia in Argentina.  We still hope for his return one day. We all miss him.
Having gloves, good blades to care for wounds is a plus.
Here we use a bucket for a stool.

Indiegogo Fundraiser
Last year's fund raising was a tremendous help for Sergio. This fundraiser helped support him over the last 8 months. His life is easier because of all of your donors. We plan another Indiegogo this spring. 

The Patients
It is a dream to one day, to find a way to integrate a patient education program...alas..for now, just a dream. Sadly, same conditions, different patients. It seems there is no end. We are making a difference but albeit, a bandaid..speaking metaphorically.  Each patient, young and old, are always expressing their gratitude for Sergio's (and his team's) help. The care they would receive if Sergio were not there, may not be adequate or sufficient to heal their wounds. As I've mentioned before, sometimes its more cost effective for the hospital to cut off the limb as oppose to nurse a wound back to health.  Sergio has nursed many limbs back to life.

Stop here, the following is for strong eyes and stomachs only.

His family brought him in 4 days after the injury.

This photo, left, is the young boy who was accidentally burned with polvora (flammable power used for fireworks). See posting Jan 9th. I cannot paint the picture with words of how quietly and calmly this child sat while Sergio applied vaseline and silver sulfasalazine to his open facial wounds.

Day 15 after initial burn and 11 days of burn care.

Sergio believes when one is calm during receiving wound care, their bodies heal quickly.

We hope all who know and/or who've met Sergio continue to provide support in some way, every bit helps. Stay tuned, we will keep updating the blog.

My nephew Ethan, a pre-med student, joined me this trip. He will do great things in his life!