Trip Report from San Marcos March 2022 Clinic Week
This spring, Cape Cares made our second post-Covid-19 return to San Marcos, a joyous reunion with our humanitarian partners, local community leaders, and our Honduran friends. We were surprised to find that electricity arrived at the compound in our absence. It is amazing to see the difference a single light bulb can make! At their own expense, the communities had made building and grounds improvements that enhanced indoor airflow, thus improving Covid-19 safety, and making the volunteers, both Honduran and American, more comfortable.
Although we brought our own protocols for Covid-19 safety, the San Marcos citizens improved on our plans. For example, the local health coordinator instituted screening for Covid-19 symptoms before patient came anywhere near our compound. Support staff of San Marcos provided great food fare, prepared on site, laundry, grounds maintenance, and even some entertainment. One evening Cape Cares hosted and served an “exotic” American-style barbecue meal for more than 30 people: Hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad and a huge cake. They loved it! We called it “Fiesta Night” since there was no reasonable translation for “Down Home Barbecue”. It was a treat for us Americanos to get a chance to serve the people who usually take care of us.
Norma Urbina, our Honduran liaison, smoothed all the issues surrounding transportation, customs, and a brand-new airport--not to mention a brand-new Honduran Government with brand-new government rules. Community leaders Juan Carlos and Arturo, having worked with Cape Care for 20 years, directed clinic setup and organized patient-flow.
In addition to having fun, the exceptional team of volunteers cared for a total of 764 total patients, 530 of them being medical and 234 dental. We administered an additional 170 fluoride treatments to elementary school students. Our incredible dental team, all first-time volunteers in San Marcos, were able to smoothly set up the clinic space and ramp up to full speed-enough to see a record 133 patients in a single day. They provided dental restorations, dental extractions, and teeth cleanings.
There were two midnight emergency patients: one being an 82-year-old man in severe respiratory distress due to severe asthma and pneumonia who had arrived at the clinic by a hammock being carried by a few family members. He was treated and thanks to our intervention we were able to send him home in stabilized condition. The team made home visits to a woman with a broken hip who could not walk to the road, much less to the clinic. They also did a follow up on the 82-year-old pneumonia patient. The team retraced the nearly two mile journey his family had made carrying the hammock in the dark over rocky narrow paths.
During our San Marcos clinic week, we felt as if we were able to really bond with both our fellow volunteers/providers and our San Marcos support team. The San Marcos support team was invaluable, not only to greatly maximized efficiency and overall clinic operations, but also for morale! We hope that this fiesta night will be a returning tradition to thank our community partners and celebrate the collective work of our brigade.
Why Support Cape CARES?
Cape CARES was founded on the principle of continuity; providing medical and dental care year after year, serving the needs of long-term health care in rural Honduran communities. It all started with the realization by our founders that there was a huge gap in follow up care from the medical and dental mission trips to the global south. They decided to establish an organization that would provide medical and dental care, as well as follow-up care to people in remote areas of Honduras. Since 1988, Cape CARES has treated families and communities for three generations.
Cape CARES treats a variety of acute and chronic conditions, as well as screenings and referrals for more serious conditions. Historically, our dental clinic provided surgical extractions of badly decayed teeth. As the years have progressed, we have emphasized education and prevention and, now we are able to provide fillings, dental cleanings, and fluoride treatments.
Access to health and dental care has always been limited in Honduras. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and overburdened hospitals, access became nearly impossible for the past two years. For those living in the rural areas that our clinic serves, long travel distances for care and very limited financial abilities to pay for the travel, patient visits, and medications, are just some of the barriers faced when trying to access health and dental care. For most of Cape CARES patients, our brigades are their only access to healthcare for the year, making our presence more important than ever.
Cape CARES has worked to form sustainable long-term partnerships with community leaders to address overall health of the dry corridor in Honduras; for example, consulting on a water filter project, helping to provide women with prenatal vitamins, and holding community needs assessments and health educational sessions. We strive to create positive and sustainable changes in the lives of our patients, their families, and their communities.
Access to medical and dental care in these regions is critical, and Cape CARES would not be able to continue our work if it wasn’t for people like you! Thank you for generous support!