Once again, a team of Moose Jaw and area medical professionals is heading to Patzun, Guatemala to provide much-needed health care.
The Moose Jaw International Medical Mission is set to leave for their fourth mission to Guatemala. The team provides a potentially life-changing service. The group includes a surgical team, a medical team, and this year they have added a work team that will install water filters and safe stoves in the homes of local residents.
They hope to perform 40 surgeries during the trip.
“We have a general surgeon who comes along and we do a lot of laparoscopic gallbladder removals. There are a lot of hernia repairs, too,” said organizer and registered nurse Jackie Wilson. “This year we have a gynecologist coming with us, so we will also be doing lots of women’s health surgeries, so hysterectomies and those kinds of things. As far as our medical team, last year we saw about 600 people in their clinics, and that is what you would go to your family physician for — lots of aches and pains, some diabetics, people with high blood pressure, that sort of thing.”
Wilson says their team has “fallen in love” with the people of Guatemala and adds they are happy to help those in need.
“There is a huge disparity between the rich and the poor in Guatemala. The community that we go to, the people there are very uneducated, for the most part, and they are quite poor. There is just no access available,” said Wilson.
“They are farmers and they work up in the mountains and lots of them have never left their community. There are no physicians who work there. There is a lot of need; there is kind of an unending wait list of people who could use some surgical treatment but there are no options there for them to receive it.”
To facilitate this work, the team holds many fundraisers throughout the year. Wilson adds that much of the medications that will be given to patients were donated by local pharmacies.
“Our budget this year was about $45,000 and we are very close to meeting our goal. The stuff we raise money for covers purchasing the stoves, the water filters, and all the surgical supplies that we need. We also pay hospital fees for this little hospital that we work out of and we hire some local nurses to work alongside us while we are there.”
Wilson says it is an incredibly rewarding experience.
“As a nursing professional, you want these people to have the best care that they can. They are so incredibly grateful for the care that we give them,” said Wilson. “It is very rewarding when you see patients leaving with hope again that they will feel better and that they have a chance for good health, now that they have had proper treatment. It kind of reminds us all why we got into health care in the first place.”
Half of the 34-member team leaves on Thursday and the rest on Friday. Follow the group on Facebook to get updates on the trip, and to stay connected with the group and their fundraising efforts throughout the year.