With The Medical Brigades… (Part 1)

One of the things we may take for granted in this country is high-speed internet access nearly everywhere we go. Not the case in the rural areas of Honduras.  Now that we’re back, we can highlight the rest of our trip to Honduras with Global Medical Brigades. We hope you enjoy. (Be sure to click the photos to see them full-size…)

Before we set out on more adventures into the mountains of Honduras, we set about doing a somewhat tedious, but necessary task: Separating the medicines brought in the Ready Relief Boxes into individual doses.  

Not all groups who use the RRB do this, however this works well for the Global Medical Brigades in their clinic system.  They treat hundreds of patients, sometimes daily, during their clinics and it’s much easier to dispense medication if it’s prepared beforehand.

The first clinic we attended was run by a Medical Brigade from West Virginia University.  The location was a small, dusty town named Matasanos, a few miles from the border of Nicaragua, about an hour and a half drive east from GB’s base camp at Rapaco.

We arrived in a cloud of dust and saw well more than a hundred people had already arrived.  Women, men and children stood, shielding themselves from the bright sunshine under umbrellas, waiting patiently for the clinic to open.  The temporary clinic was set up in the town’s school, which not only offered a shady courtyard, but allowed the clinic’s operation to run efficiently from open-air room to open-air room.

Each clinic run by a Medical Brigade is set up the same way for uniformity, as patients move from check-in to triage, then to the doctor’s “office” and/or dental room.  From there there’s the children’s area for teeth-brushing and fluoride treatments and a separate woman’s health room.

Finally, there’s the pharmacy which is staffed by student Brigaders, and overseen by professional Honduran pharmacists employed by Global Brigades.  This room is always a flurry of activity, especially once prescriptions are filled and are handed out to patients. And of course right there in the middle of it all, is the Ready Relief Box.

As it was explained to us, not everyone that attends these Medical Brigade Clinics is ill.  However, these folks live in very rural areas, sometimes barely accessible, and can be cut off during the rainy season.  And so this is the opportunity for folks to get a check-up, to see a doctor, have a new baby examined.

It was a long hot day.  But that was tempered by the cool shade of the school courtyard and by the knowledge that this was needed work.  And of course the laughter from the children and their faces showed it was all worth it.

Next in Part Two of With The Medical Brigades… we’re heading up into the mountains to a Postcard Pueblo.