That’s a wrap, ladies and gentleman! The team couldn’t be more thrilled with the success of this year’s clinics, and are already looking forward to next year. Thank you to the Newberg Rotary, Antigua Rotary, the seven talented dentists (and one assistant) that were a part of the team this year, and all of the volunteers who helped to make this year the success that it was!
Thursday and Friday were busy days for the team. We treated 269 patients (!), attended a dinner with the Antigua Rotary and spent time celebrating our team member, Dr. Katie Harper, because it was her birthday!
Clinic Days in San Mateo
Thursday and Friday we continued our clinic in San Mateo. The vast majority of our patients were children from the local school, as Profe Gerson, when liaising with Rotarian Jacque, asked that we focus on proper dental care for the young kids.
One of our patients, a young boy, whom Dr. Benjamin Gonzales treated, was an interesting case because he appeared to have tooth gemination in his front teeth. Tooth gemination is a dental phenomenon that appears to be two teeth developed from one. There are no medical risks with a geminated tooth, but it did give pause for the team to “Oooh and ahhh” at the phenomenon. Dr. Gonzales successfully extracted one of the boys molars that was decaying.
One minor setback the team encountered was that one of the lights for the dental chairs was not functioning properly, making it difficult to see patients in the chair without another member of the team holding a flashlight so the dentists could see properly into patients mouth. Lo and behold, we didn’t let this stop us. In due time we realized we could use duct tape that we had to fashion a couple of extra hand flashlights to the light to fix the problem.
Friday morning the mayor of the San Mateo and Profe Gerson provided some kind words to the entire team, thanking everyone for their efforts, time and sweat put into treating the children of San Mateo. Profe Gerson ended his speech by noting his hope is that this is not the first and only time the team will be in San Mateo. Jacque, Antigua Rotarian echoed his sentiment by stating that he sees this partnership with San Mateo as blossoming greatly, equating it to the relationship we have formed with the town of El Hato.
Rotary Dinner and a Birthday Celebration!
Thursday evening, as a thank you to the team, the Antigua Rotary hosted a dinner at a local restaurant where there was an opportunity to celebrate the great work that has taken place in the communities this year. Everyone was optimistic and pleased with the results and the continued partnership with the Antigua and Newbery Rotary Clubs.
During the dinner everyone was also excited to celebrate Dr. Katie Harper’s birthday! We sang Feliz Cumpleanos and ate delicious cake in her honor.
Our final two days in San Mateo have gone by so fast!
We spent Wednesday, Thursday and half of Friday treating patients in San Mateo. In our first year there we treated 269 patients, the majority children. Treating this record breaking number of patients wouldn’t have been possible without the tireless effort from our entire team, encompassing our dental team, rotarians and other volunteers. Let’s meet some of those people!
Jacque, Antigua Rotarian
Jacque, do-all Antigua Rotary member extraordinaire has been involved in the dental mission since its inception 12 years ago. Jacque is a pivotal member of the team, responsible for communicating with the local townspeople to ensure there are proper accommodations for the dental team, that people in the community are aware that we will be there, etc. With this being our first time in San Mateo he, as well as Alma and Tom Olson worked diligently to ensure everything was in order for our arrival and we couldn’t have been happier with the results of our clinic there! Fun facts about Jacque: prior to his time in the Antigua Rotary he learned the ins and outs of the manufacturing line at Nestle, and is also trilingual, speaking French, Spanish and English!
Grant, Newberg Rotarian and A-dec Representative
This year we welcomed Grant to the team. He is the school coordinator for A-dec, the dental office furniture and equipment manufacturer, founded by Grant’s grandfather 51 years ago. The team also works with A-dec to ensure we have the necessary equipment for the clinics. At home, Grant is responsible for working with dental schools across the U.S. and Canada to provide equipment to them. Grant is also a member of the Newberg Rotary and tells us he joined the team on this trip because he “wanted to see what it was all about.” Grant was a valued member of the team this year, as he successfully fixed one of the hand pieces that was not blowing water, as there was a crack in the line. He also carried out dental assistant duties and sterilized the dental tools.
Local Community Members
We work each year with local community members, typically the mayor or school director to facilitate and help run our clinics. This year, we also relied local police men to stand guard 24-7 over the clinic in San Mateo. They stayed the night in the building we housed the clinic to ensure nothing was tampered with during the times of the day we were not there. They also were there during clinic hours as supporting members of the town.
Ahead of our first clinic day in San Mateo on Wednesday the team spent Tuesday relaxing by the pool at Hotel Antigua, enjoying each others company, conversing about the past two days in El Hato, and later exploring Antigua on foot. Auggie also diligently walked around town purchasing goodies for the Newberg Rotary auction that happens later in the year. I think you all will be excited about the items he purchased!
It is a good thing the team had some quality relaxation time Tuesday because we arrived in San Mateo around 9:00a.m. and there was already a long line of patients out the door. In total, we treated a record number 110 patients, an estimated $50,000 in production!
Profe Gerson, the principal of the school in San Mateo has been an extremely diligent partner in working with us to ensure a successful clinic here. He ensured that all students who needed or wanted to be seen by a dentist were put onto the treatment list before our arrival and even organized them by grade level. He was present throughout the day, overseeing the clinic and was pleased with the ability of our team to treat such a large number of patients on the first day.
The majority of today’s patients ranged in age from as young as two to eight years old, with a handful of older patients also receiving treatment. If you are curious how the team was able to treat 110 patients, when typically we are able to treat around 60 in a day, a main reason is because a majority of the treatment administered today was focused on extracting teeth. After many years of providing treatment in El Hato, people have begun to understand the importance of oral hygiene, thus resulting in fewer teeth extractions and more fillings — which is a more tedious and time consuming task than extracting a tooth. Our highest hope is that this initial exposure to dental hygiene, for the of people San Mateo, will spur them to understand the importance of a clean and happy mouth.
Throughout the day the team provided every single patient with a toothbrush as a takeaway, and reiterated the importance of brushing twice a day. They also successfully put fluoride varnish on all of the children’s teeth, which, in case you’re wondering, tastes like bubble gum.
Several rotarians joined us at the clinic today, including Hilda and Flor de Maria, and shared with us that they have plans to engage the local Interac students to plan an oral hygiene class for the students in San Mateo. Interac is like the rotary for high school students. Their vision is to have the Interac students recruit a dentist and a hygienist to come to the school and teach them about the importance of having a clean and healthy mouth, with fun games and songs of course to keep the kids engaged :). With a population of about 2,000 and 600 of them school age, this sounds like the perfect way to reach a large percentage of the town’s population.
We are heading up to San Mateo for our second day of clinic shortly. Later, Tom and Alma are hosting the team and Antigua Rotary for a celebratory dinner in honor of the great work we are achieving this week.
Stay tuned for more pictures from our journey as well!
Monday, our second and final day of the dental clinic in El Hato was quite the success! The team successfully treated 60 patients, with the majority of them being treated for cavities. After 12 years of service in the town of El Hato, we continue to see a rise in the number of patients returning year after year. With the on-going treatment our team provides every year, and on-going education from the elementary school regarding the importance of oral hygiene, we are pleased that the number of extractions we carry out on our patients has dwindled.
If you’ll recall, last year the team treated a 25 year-old female patient who had a history of seizures, whom the team was not comfortable with providing care to, given the uncertain circumstances of her seizures. Subsequently the Antigua Rotary promised to work with the young lady to ensure that she was seen by a neurologist prior to receiving dental treatment. She returned this year for treatment, and unfortunately the team was unable to treat her still as she was not able to provide a clear about the seizures of her circumstances. We’re continuing to work with the local rotary to ensure she receives the dental, and other treatment she made need.
In all, the team was happy with how the second day of clinic turned out!
Today the team arrived in El Hato around 9:00 a.m. energized and excited for the first clinic day. However, despite the team’s early set up of the clinic yesterday, we hit a bottleneck when we couldn’t locate an important box that had our suction tips and all of our protective glasses. We got one chair running with two disposable pairs of glasses we found. And Dr. Ben Gonzales and Dr. Katie Harper improvised a pair of glasses by threading dental floss through two spare lenses in order to get a second chair up. Talk about creativity at its finest! Fortunately we located the box of missing supplies, which had accidentally been labeled as a supply box for the medical team.
We were assisted with patient admittance by the local rotarians, Flor and Alma Olson who managed triaging patients so the dentists could focus on first helping patients that were in pain. Dr. Michael Harper and Dr. Gonzales saw multiple patients who had fillings that were previously done by our group, all in great shape. It’s always great to see successful cases where our early intervention has helped them maintain their teeth. In addition to carrying out extractions and fillings, the group also provided prophylaxis cleanings for the children and applied fluoride varnishes. Overall the group had a productive day, despite the slow start, and finished up all of the day’s patients by 3:00 p.m.
A new fixture in the classrooms this year were fabric toothbrush holders for all of the students. Some of the toothbrushes were old or dusty so we restocked each toothbrush holder with a brand new brush, toothpaste, and floss. It goes a long way in prevention when the schools help facilitate a regular hygiene regimen because, for many students, brushing at home may not be feasible.
We are looking forward to our second clinic day in El Hato tomorrow!
Buenas Dias! Today kicks off our first day of clinic work in the town of El Hato. We couldn’t be more excited to be back in El Hato, seeing familiar faces of the town and helping to provide dental care to the local people. Yesterday was a busy day of preparing for today and tomorrow’s clinic in El Hato, as the majority of the dental team arrived bright and early at the Guatemala City airport.
This year, in addition to general dental supplies, we brought with us a new Adec mobile dental unit, replacing a damaged unit that was not working properly. This new unit should enable us to see more patients. It was quite a journey ensuring the unit arrived safely into town though, as the customs officers wanted us to pay a twelve percent tax on the unit, unsure if we were going to resell the unit in the country. In order to avoid the tax we conceded on bringing the unit back with us to prove we did not sell it.
We made fast work of setting up the clinic yesterday as local Rotarian, Tom Olson, and our Newberg Rotarian team member, Auggie Gonzales, led the charge on site set up. With everyone’s help we managed to set up nearly the entire clinic by noon!
The team spent yesterday afternoon in Pastores shopping for custom leather goods. We are excited to hit the ground running this morning and for our first day of clinic to be underway!
Hello everyone and welcome (back)! It’s that time of year again for the Newberg Rotary Club to prepare for its annual week-long service trip in Guatemala. In partnership with the Antigua Rotary, we are looking forward to providing dental care to the communities of El Hato and San Mateo. San Mateo is a new location for us this year, which we are excited to tell you more about in a later post.
Before the team begins arriving in Guatemala later this week, we would like to take a moment to congratulate Maureen Gonzales on receiving a Paul Harris Fellow (PHF) for the many years of service she has provided in the local communities we serve. Her physical therapy services have proven to be an invaluable addition to the services we provide. And as you can see from past blog posts, she has shared some excellent stories of the ministry she provided. Although Maureen is not joining us this year (she is saving her vacation time to be with her daughter Laura for the birth of her son in Mexico City in April), we are truly grateful for her service!
Outside of Rotarians, Maureen is the third member to receive a Paul Harris Fellow recognition. Dr. Mike Harper and Dr. Ben Gonzales are past recipients of the Paul Harris Fellow. To be a PHF recipient, $1,000 has been contributed to Rotary International on the individual’s behalf.
It takes many volunteers help to run a clinic. Here are some of the jobs that happen behind the scenes but are pivotal to the success our team.
This happens a few weeks in advance at both the villages we go to. Our partner Rotary Club of Antigua sent Jose Maria Texidor up to the villages to talk with their representatives there. Jose coordinated with the Mayor of Guardania and city council representative Erwin Chan Reyes of El Hato. Together they publicized to the small communities what services will be provided and when. Then villagers are encouraged to come sign up for an appointment time. We moved to this system a few years ago and overall we feel it helps ensure that people are there when we are. We have had times in the past where very few patients showed up on a day we ran a clinic. This approach also keeps the lines outside of the clinic manageable and makes it easier to find the patient when it’s their turn.
Patient Intake & Checkout
This one man show is run by who the villagers fondly refer to as Santa. Alonso Enriquez is a volunteer with the Newberg Rotary Club and his job is an important one. He checks people in, gets their name, age, and what problem they think they have written down on their patient card. He keeps track of the schedule to make sure patients are seen in the right order. He also is responsible for handing out toothbrushes, toothpaste, and prizes at the end of the visits. Often times the Dentist will have him translate specific instructions to the patient about after care, whether it is a warm salt water rinse, a pain medicine to take every few hours, or general brushing recommendations. It’s a lot for one person but Alonso does his job happily. Because this job has so many tasks, it is often an area where we are able to plug in Rotary Antigua Club members when they join us for an afternoon or morning of service.
I overheard a dentist say “Denise is a saint!”. And it’s true. Sterilization is a dirty job. A dirty, monotonous job. Once a patient has been seen the dentists drop their dirty and often bloody trays over at the sterilizing station. Where upon, Denise Enriquez, begins the process of sterilization. There are three buckets, the first includes a scrub brush to remove any extra tissue or gunk left on the instruments. The second basin is a water and bleach mix. Then she moves the intruments into the third basin which is a clean water rinse. Finally she is able to put the dental instruments into the sterilization machine. Once that is complete, she lays the instruments out to dry and cool down. From there the instruments are distributed back to their proper homes, new trays are set up for the next patient, and the process begins all over again.
Walter Want of the Noon Newberg Rotary Club is a veteran on these trips. In safety, electrical, and mechanical questions, his knowledge is invaluable. His primary role is providing power and compressed air to all the dental units. Yet Walter will often be seen running around in the background of the clinic, problem solving and troubleshooting different issues that arise with the equipment or the facilities.