July 2010 Trip Report from Gordon
NY/HELP sponsored a summer trip to the mountainous village of La Laguna, near Yoro, Honduras, from July 26 to August 7, 2010. On this trip were Dr Gordon Comstock, a family doctor from Arcade UCC and his great-niece Shealyn King of Lebanon, CT (who is going to college this fall to major in Spanish). Others included first-year medical students Kelly Beers (from Honeoye UCC, making her third trip to Honduras) and her friend Emily Zachowski; long-time NY/HELP worker Doug Young from Livonia UMC; and friends Michael Barnard and Cindy Carestio and her adult son Jamie, making their first trip. In Honduras, we met up with Spanish teacher David Makepeace from Honeoye UCC, who had gone there the week before with his wife Camille for pre-trip preparations. (Camille flew back home to be with family while David stayed with us.) Our co-ordinator in Honduras, Yovany Munguía (whose full time job is country director for Sustainable Harvest International) was also at the airport; he had not only arranged for transportation for us, but also got the supplies up to the village for our building projects!
Our building projects were very successful. Almost all the villages around sent men to help with the projects (in fact, these guys knew how to do it, and we helped them!). The clinic now has a new roof (well, 90% put up before we left, with the rest of the corrugated lamina installed the next week by the community workers, working under the skillful supervision of Elio Lopez). The clinic roof no longer leaks! There also is a new fence just around the clinic; this will not only provide better security but will keep wandering livestock from eating the fruit tree orchard we planted in front of the clinic. The community workers, working alongside Mike, Doug, Jamie and David, did a top-notch job!
Jamie, Doug and the girls went with Rigoberto Castro several times to help build stoves in needy houses. These stoves not only let people cook their food better, and use less firewood, but the chimney takes the smoke OUTSIDE instead of floating around the house.
In the clinic, we saw 146 patients. There were the usual cases of respiratory illness, often caused by poor ventilation in their homes; stomach problems, intestinal parasites and diarrhea, associated with poor water and sanitation; and osteoarthritis from years of heavy work in the mountain fields. We also saw a man with a poorly healed fracture of his forearm, whom we are helping go to the orthopedic surgeon in San Pedro Sula; a kid with cerebral palsy who needs to go for physical therapy, and several people with Chagas disease (from bites from chinche bugs which live in poor housing; Chagas affects the heart).
There were also a number of patients with chronic diseases. A number of people have hypertension (perhaps from the "Westernization" of their diet?). We had a case of diabetes and one or two people with rheumatoid arthritis. We also saw a half dozen older men with prostate problems and urinary retention; they did not want surgery but have benefitted from modern medicines.
On Saturday, we packed some medical supplies and went with our nurse, Mirtila Garcia, to the neighboring community of El Calechal. In addition to the patients that came to our temporary clinic in the Catholic church, Gordon made house calls on 6 elderly patients.
Our two medical students from the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine on Long Island, Kelly and Emily, did a great job of helping in the clinic. They would see patients, frequently with David translating, and discuss them with Gordon and Mirtila. They picked up on a number of interesting problems. In addition, we funded several requests for assistance with medical problems such as needed surgery.
Shea kept very busy, visiting local schools, teaching songs to the kids, and helping translate. She did a great PR job for our group with the children! Cindy shared crocheting and knitting skills with the local women, and, along with Rigoberto Castro, planted dozens of fruit trees. She helped a lot in the pharmacy and with the doll project as well.
Jamie and Mike took literally hundreds of pictures; we are looking forward to seeing them!
La Laguna won the semi-annual NY/HELP soccer tournament. The first prize was 500 Lempiras and the new soccer ball! Jamie played for La Laguna, and helped make the winning goal.
We walked down the mountain on Wednesday (and it didnīt rain!), and took a "busito" to San Pedro Sula. Gordon and Shea went on to Copán, to visit the famous Mayan ruins there. The rest of the group recovered from mountain life on the beach at Omoa. We all returned safely on the Delta flight to Atlanta on Saturday.
Thanks to everyone for their prayers and assistance with the work of NY/HELP. None of this could be done without all of your contributions.
Gordon F Comstock, MD
August 22, 2010
David's Full Report
Gordon's Report (with pictures)
Updated August 29,2010