Patient care in La Ciudad de Esperanza (ACE)
When we think about healthcare and patient care, we think about doctors being able to diagnose us and refer us to treatments or further procedures in a streamlined process. Diagnosis can happen quite mechanically and doesn’t always require providers to go beyond medical history and relevant information. Our medical team, however, will always want to know every patient at ACE personally. Even then, diagnosis doesn’t always happen and treatments aren’t always readily available. With a lack of resources and equipment in this clinic, our team’s providers can only offer so much or are only able to alleviate their pain, all within the short period of one week.
Our clinic’s patients, like any patients in the US, came with questions about their health and expected resolutions. However, the science aspect of healthcare is not a standalone and is the least emphasized in patient care. Guatemala’s healthcare system is limited, but our medical team maintains strong dedication to our patients. They are deeply attentive to the complex lives of this marginalized population, whose hardships vary between each person and greatly contribute to their health. This could be seen in the exam room of Dr. Felipe who often said, after most appointments, that more could have been done for the patients had they been in the US. He understood how much burdence his patients shouldered from traumas and hardships of poverty and how this reflected in their physical pain. This was especially true for the women that came to our clinic. In the Latin machismo culture, they faced criticism over their children’s welfare and were blamed for their children’s health issues. While she was helping a patient, Dr. Deb noted how the patient carried the pain of losing her child in her shoulders, hence creating extreme tension in her muscles there. In another case, Dr. Lauri caused a mother to burst into tears when she remarked how her son made up for his blindness with a vibrant personality.
Is our little clinic doing enough for this community? The answer may not be clear to some. However, the Hippocratic Oath calls for our providers to “benefit my patients according to my greatest ability and judgment, and I will do no harm or injustice to them.” They uphold this value in its truest sense by allowing the patients to acknowledge their pain and experience, by giving visibility to the patients who might just be at the bottom of the social hierarchy. By coming to the clinic, these patients are able to make sense of their suffering, are reminded to continue taking care of themselves, to keep listening to their own body, the soundness of their mind, and their heart. The clinic of ACE may be lacking in technology to make diagnosis. But our medical team sustains quality patient care in the midst of challenges, in anticipation that our healthcare would one day be completed with resources, and that we will soon reach full capacity.
Lastly, I would like to personally thank…
Dr. Eric for showing us your passion for patient care during consultation
Dr. Deb for teaching us about the connection between spirituality and physical wellbeing in PT
Dr. Christian for showing how art and dentistry are combined in healthcare
Dr. Felipe for your sincere dedication and consolation for every patient
Dr. Stephanie & Nurse KK for your patience during triage and your firm but compassionate reminder of “patient first”
Ricky & Mary for keeping the team afloat and working so hard behind the scenes
Dr. Lauri for showing us your bird trick that brought the brightest smiles and amusement to the pediatric patients
And my fellow students and everyone in our team that made this trip happen!