Posted by: apguess | March 12, 2016

Final Clinic Day

The team returned safely home to Oregon last weekend but not before a final successful clinic day in San Mateo. Friday’s clinic day is always a half day, as the team needs to allow plenty of time to take inventory and meticulously clean and pack everything for future use. As such, the team treated 32 patients!

Thank you to everyone noted below who contributed to this year’s successful service trip and to the entire Antigua Rotary for the ground support and partnership with the Newberg Rotary!

Newberg Rotarian, Dr. Allen Methven

Dr. Benjamin Gonzales

Dr. Brittany Fox

Dr. Charlie Hartman

Newberg Rotary President, Jim McMaster

Newberg Rotarian, Auggie Gonzales

Newberg Rotarian and A-Dec Representative, Grant Austin

Physical Therapist, Maureen Gonzales

Antigua Rotarian, Alma Olson

Antigua Rotarian, Tom Olson

Volunteer Extraordinaire and Translator, Lacey Cox

Volunteer Extraordinaire, Matthew Gonzales

Volunteer Extraordinaire, Melody McMaster

Volunteer Extraordinaire, Spencer McMaster

Volunteer Extraordinaire, Thomas Olson

And yours truly, Blogger, Ali Guess

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Posted by: apguess | March 4, 2016

Antigua Rotarians Awarded Paul Harris Fellow

After work yesterday the team spent a lovely evening with the Antigua Rotary, celebrating, eating and conversing about this year’s successes in the clinic. Each year this dinner is a great reminder of the countless number of people who contribute to the success of the project. In fact, it was announced last night that three members of the Antigua Rotary – Flor Caniz, Alma Olson and Tom Olson – will be awarded the prestigious Paul Harris Fellow for the many years of service they have provided in the local communities we serve.

Thank you Flor, Alma and Tom for your continued dedication!

This year also serves as the 15th year of partnership with the Newberg and Antigua Rotaries for this project. We look forward to many more years of partnership and success with this project.



Posted by: apguess | March 4, 2016

Clinic Day 2 in San Mateo

A typical clinic day for the team begins around 9:30 and ends around 4:30. We remain open all day, with a 45 minute lunch break in between, in the hopes of reaching as many people in the villages as possible. Yesterday was no different, as the team treated 47 patients. However, we did have an influx of people wanting to sign up to be seen at the end of the day. When this happens we have to kindly ask people to return the next day; otherwise the team would be working well into the night.

Early in the day Dr. Hartman treated a young man, 14, who said he had never been to the dentist. When asked why he thought a 14 year old had never visited the dentist, aside from, perhaps, the financial means to do so, Dr. Hartman replied, “Unfortunately, many people here don’t believe in taking kids to the dentist, especially when they’re young, because they say ‘Oh their teeth will fall out anyway.'” This is the mindset we are hoping to change in the villages. In addition to providing dental treatment that includes fillings, extractions, and cleanings, with each patient we remind them of the importance of brushing and flossing as it will ultimately contribute to being healthier overall. We believe we are making some progress, as this year the team has done far more fillings in San Mateo than extractions.

Twice yesterday Dr. Fox had the opportunity to use the cavitron on her patients, as they only required deep cleanings, versus fillings or extractions. The cavitron (pictured below) uses high frequency sound waves to vibrate tarter off of the teeth, removing plaque build up around the gums. This tool helps destroy pathogens which are often a driver in periodontal disease.

San Mateo Day 2_1

San Mateo Day 2_2

Dr. Fox shows the young girl, who she used the cavitron on, how to floss.

In an unfortunate event, around mid-day our amalgamator broke. The amalgamator is an essential piece of equipment; it’s job is to mix the restorative materials that the dental team uses for fillings. If we did not have this, we wouldn’t be able to place any fillings. Fortunately, we had a back-up amalgamator, albeit old, but it worked!

Today will serve as our final clinic day for 2016. The team is eager to get to work!


Posted by: apguess | March 3, 2016

Clinic Day 1 in San Mateo

Yesterday’s first clinic day in San Mateo was quite a success! We were able to set up the four dental operatories and one physical therapy room Tuesday, after our last clinic day in El Hato, which made it easy to hit the ground running yesterday morning. In total, we treated 65 patients and many more with fluoride, who were too young to be seen by a dentist.

The reason we are able to treat so many patients in a day (trust me, 65 is A LOT!) is because of a number of reasons. In San Mateo (and El Hato) we have very helpful volunteers, mainly rotarians who run the “front desk” where each patient signs up to be seen by a dentist.

San Mateo_10

(Above) Rotarians assist with “front desk” sign-up in San Mateo.

Every patient fills out a 3×5 note card that contains basic questions about themselves, including Name, Age, Weight, known conditions, and if possible where the patient is experiencing pain. All of this information is crucial, as it helps the dentists evaluate how to treat the patient. It is also helpful as the team is able to reference in future years what treatment was provided to the patient.

San Mateo_11

Dr. Gonzales and team review the patient note cards from the first clinic day in San Mateo.

We will be heading up to San Mateo shortly; more to come later. Hasta luego!

Posted by: apguess | March 2, 2016

Let us walk along the road together

Guest Post by Maureen Gonzales, Physical Therapist

As a physical therapist, I represent the lone medical component of this year’s Rotary trip. I have seen 15 patients thus far with a variety of musculoskeletal issues.

The process goes something like this: the local rotarians have been to the villages and have created a fluid schedule for the dental team as well as letting the people know that we have a physical therapist for neck, back, shoulder or knee problems. Some people sign up for specific appointments, others simply drop in. To make things easier, I typically see patients on a first come first served basis, that way I don’t have to turn anyone away.

A therapeutic evaluation includes a medical history, some social questions about lifestyle, work, and general mobility, then an objective exam. I am aided in this work with help from some of the local rotarians (thank you Millie, Alma, Flor, Edna, and Jacques!). I then form a physical therapy impression, provide education for self care, a home exercise program, and manual therapy if indicated. Sometimes the follow-up includes a second appointment or the procurement of needed equipment. On the first day we needed to find a pair of crutches for one woman’s husband and a pair of shoes for another patient. We went to at least 10 pharmacies in Antigua and could only find children’s crutches or tall adult (5’8-6’5). The pharmacies kept telling us we needed to go to Guatemala City. Finally, as luck would have it, we found a pair for him from our Rotary hosts, Tom and Alma. I am still looking for the shoes.

Additionally, aside from the local patients I am working to keep our team healthy. The dental equipment is great but the ergonomics are poor for the dentists and their assistants causing fatigue and pain. So when there is an opportunity, I work to ensure the team gets the help and attention they need.

On a closing note, I will share with you the stoicism and wisdom of one of my 80 year old patients. She had constant back pain and her spine was degenerated. She walked with difficulty for short distances. She lived alone with no income and had little money for food, much less medicine or visiting a doctor. We were able to direct her to the medical services in Antigua at Hermano Pedro where she could receive comprehensive care. Her final comment to me regarding her difficult situation was a shrug and a smile, “we are all pilgrims here.”

Our purpose here is to walk along the road together.

Maureen and Ofelia, smile wide for the camera!
Posted by: apguess | March 2, 2016

Clinic Begins in San Mateo

Today the team is re-energized and ready for another busy few days in the town of San Mateo! This is our second year working in the town. Last year the team worked quickly to treat more than 250 patients, mainly under the age of 10. So we are anticipating a busy few days.

Yesterday we made the trip to Monterrico, a small town on the Pacific Coast of Guatemala, and relaxed by the beach.

Pictured below, Volcano Fuego emitting smoke. Photo captured by Rotarian, Auggie Gonzales, on the way to Monterrico.

Volcan Fuego


Group_Volcan Fuego

The team also stopped for a photo op with Volcan Fuego pictured in the background!

Posted by: apguess | February 29, 2016

El Hato in Pictures

After two fulfilling days in El Hato, the team said goodbye until next year and packed up the vans and trucks and dropped all of the supplies off in in San Mateo. Tomorrow, the team is looking forward to relaxing in Monterrico!

Posted by: apguess | February 29, 2016

Serving the Community of El Hato

Each year when the team returns to El Hato there’s a certain level of excitement in the air. And this year was no different. We arrived in El Hato Sunday morning, around 8:30 a.m., to a line of people waiting patiently to been seen by the dental team. This year, with four dental operatories, we treated 93 people in the town of El Hato!

The team was pleased to see, hanging on the wall in one of the classrooms, a quilt with small pockets large enough to hold toothbrushes (pictured below). The team happily placed new toothbrushes in the quilt pockets for the students to use.


This year we saw a handful of very interesting patients. One included a young girl who had enamel hypoplasia, a condition that results in a person having less enamel than normal. Someone with this condition is more susceptible to getting cavities. Dr. Brittany Fox treated the young girl, removed two of her teeth, and shared that in the United States, someone with this condition is likely to have crowns placed on their teeth. However, here, in El Hato, people do not typically have the means to pay for such dental work. As such, Dr. Fox was glad she was able to at least help alleviate some of pain by removing the badly infected teeth.

The dental team was reminded of the importance of triaging patients when one young man entered the clinic with a limp. Dr. Gonzales learned that the man had recently undergone heart surgery, putting him at risk if we treated him in our clinic. As such, the young man spoke with Antigua Rotarians regarding possible options, including visiting a local dentist in Antigua, who could more appropriately ensure he would be safe in his care.

In addition to dental treatment, Lacey Cox (pictured below), an early childhood educator from Portland, joined the team to serve as a translator and to speak with patients following their dental appointment about the importance of good dental hygiene and the need to brush their pearly whites twice daily. After each appointment patients received a toothbrush and toothpaste so they could put to use the information Lacey had shared with them.


It’s not out of the ordinary to experience electrical issues when we’re working in the villages, as the equipment we use requires a large amount of energy and power to work properly. As such, both days we had to overcome the compressors and generators not functioning properly. Have no fear though, Tom Olson, Antigua Rotarian and Grant Austin, Newberg Rotarian and A-Dec Representative worked quickly to ensure the team did not miss a beat.

Posted by: apguess | February 28, 2016

Buenos Dias y Hola de Antigua!

Hello again! We are back in Antigua for another promising year of service in the villages of El Hato and San Mateo. The team (pictured below), spent yesterday morning preparing for today and tomorrow’s clinic in El Hato. When we wrapped up last year’s clinic in San Mateo, the dental team meticulously organized and took inventory of all supplies. As such, set up in El Hato yesterday went off without a hitch!

This year, we are pleased to welcome a handful of new faces to serve alongside us, including Newberg Rotary President, Jim McMaster. Dr. Allen Methven, Dr. Brittany Fox, Dr. Benjamin Gonzales and Dr. Charlie Hartman will serve as our seasoned dentists. Meanwhile, the entire team is excited to work alongside the Antigua Rotary and begin our work in El Hato. Much more to come later!


Posted by: apguess | March 14, 2015

Hasta el Próximo Año!

That’s a wrap, ladies and gentlemen! 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!


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