On March 7, 2014, 7 nursing students, 2 registered nurses and 2 administrators from Lewis and Clark Community College and a Nurse Practitioner from Hinds Community College in Mississippi set out on a journey that changed their lives forever. Lewis and Clark Community College (LCCC), in partnership with MSPP, travelled to the rural community of Virginia to establish a 4- day rural health clinic. For many of these students, it was their first time travelling internationally. For LCCC this trip was the first trip of the colleges’ Alternative Spring Break Program and MSPP was thrilled to be a part of it.
The 10- hour journey took the team from Guatemala City to the village of Virginia. Located in Playa Grande, the village is home to approx. 416 people. Day 1 was spent creating a makeshift clinic using sheets as walls, dividing the community center into 4 exam rooms. For the next three days the team saw patients from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. On Monday they saw 210 children and over the next 2 days they saw 76 women and 52 men. The students rotated through the clinic having the chance to work with each of the healthcare providers, taking vitals and handing out vitamins donated by St. Anthony’s Hospital and LCCC staff members. Some of the common complaints that the team heard were respiratory problems, stomach problems and skin irritations. Among the women, the group saw many feminine health issues. Among the men they saw symptoms of diabetes and high blood pressure. Despite the heat and the makeshift clinic setting, the students were joyful, compassionate and maintained their professionalism throughout the trip. LCCC Dean of Health Science, Donna Meyer said, “This has been the highlight of my nursing career.”
This trip would not have been possible without the help of our translators, Arturo, Maria and Anabelle from Sacapulus, Quiche. Guatemala. These 3 young people were recipients of the Access Program put on by the U. S. Embassy. This program recognizes students from the rural parts of the country providing them with English lessons for 2 years. This trip was their first opportunity to utilize the English that they have learned. They were very prepared and eager to learn all that they could.
The last few days of the trip were set aside as fun days for the team. Traveling to the ancient Mayan ruins at Tikal where they witnessed the natural beauty of the country of Guatemala and learned about the ancient Mayan civilization. Of course, you can’t visit Guatemala without doing a little shopping. One of the most popular shopping markets in Guatemala is in the city of Antigua. With its cobblestone streets, churches and structures that were built in the 1500’s it proved to be more than a shopping experience.
We would like to extend a special thanks to Dale and Linda Chapman, the LCCC board of trustees, St Anthony’s Hospital and all who helped to make this trip such a great success.
Here is an article on our trip in the Riverbender.com