Medical Provider Information
Common medical conditions include joint, neck, and back pain. Most locals work manual labor-intensive jobs such as cutting paths through the jungle with a machete, or sitting on the floor for hours on end weaving; often 7 days a week. Many of the women regularly carry (on top of their heads) large heavy baskets of produce or textiles up and down the hillsides. In addition, most sleep on hammocks or small pads on the bare floor. Tylenol and Motrin are the most common and most helpful pharmaceuticals in this environment.
Abdominal pain is a common complaint, often attributed to parasites. We distribute parasite medication to every patient who has not been treated in the last six months. Respiratory illnesses result primarily due to regular exposure to open fires used for cooking or for warmth. Other maladies include fungal infections, skin lesions from insect bites, infected cuts and cellulitis. Diabetes and high blood pressure are commonplace, but often just require a medication refill. It is rare to see critically ill or severely injured patients; however, the medical team stands prepared. If there is a hospital nearby there may be options to transport a patient. As indicated, the medical team will assess and prescribe medications for many conditions.
As a provider, you may also have an opportunity to make house calls! Our local hosts may identify homes where the residents are unable to make the journey to our Clinic. In that case, the essentials go in a backpack and you travel by foot to the patient’s home. Be prepared to use the skills you learned in school: excellent history taking, physical exam, and encouraging your patients!
Simply put, American quality medical care is not available. The Global Hands of Healing team is all that the locals will have to rely upon, as it may be several months before another team arrives. Patients are very grateful, and you may be thanked with gifts of local produce!
Nurses are a key part of every trip. Not only are all patients are triaged by nurses, but nurses may be called on to mange or assist in Pharmacy, perform simple lab tests, and occasionally wound care or other patient treatments. On at least one trip, two nurses assisted the dentists! An RN education and clinical experience are welcome assets. A current license, or expired license in good standing is acceptable for any of our host countries. Advanced practice nurses or physician assistants are very much needed! Ability to see patients and prescribe alongside a physician on the trip is extremely helpful.
Our pharmacy dispenses vitamins, prescription and over the counter medications to all patients. Volunteers with a background either as a pharmacist or pharmacy tech are much desired as team members! This area might also be staffed with nurses, depending on the team roster.