As part of Welch Allyn's Corporate Social Responsibility program a group of employees went to Guatemala to work with the company's partner Heart to Heart, an international relief and development organization. They spent 6 days educating elementary school children on healthcare as well as doctors and nurses on the use of some of Welch Allyn's diagnostic devices.
As told by Susan Mangicaro, senior manager, medical and clinical affairs at Welch Allyn Inc.:
We spent our first two days in Guatemala City with Safe Passage. Volunteers with Heart to Heart joined forces with Safe Passage, a school that serves 600 at-risk children. We taught English to high school students, who were very similar to typical U.S. teens. Some were shy, some very extroverted, some just didn't want to bother with us. We had about 10 minutes with each student where they asked questions in English and vice versa. It was great to spend some time with the older students who all, despite living in squalor, had aspirations to attend the "Universite".
From there we went to "recreation" time with the young children and we each were assigned a group to play with. The playgroup is just over the barbed wire wall of the slums, many without running water and electricity. Just prior to leaving, we were able to stop by the "store Creamos," a startup company created by volunteers who taught mothers to create jewelry out of recycled materials (magazines that are recycled from the school), who previously worked at the dump.
The dump "employs" 3,000 people from 6 a.m. - 6 p.m. People wait to grab what they can and even go so far as to scavenge through a river that runs around the landfill used for sewage. It is called "the mine" because of the jewelry that gets washed down.
On day three we traveled 90 minutes south of Antigua to the village of Esquintla with 37 medical students, doctors and nurses from the U.S. who were all volunteers that paid their own way and did not receive course credits.
The volunteers worked at a practice established by Paul McHugh, DO, who leads a group twice a year to bring healthcare to rural areas in Guatemala. When we arrived there were a few hundred people waiting to be seen. We brought our products, and what is clear is that the need for basic vital sign measurements including body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate, is universal. We had a child with chronic otitis media with a rupture that we were able to capture on our video otoscope which allowed multiple medical students, the young child, and his Mom to view the picture for training and education.
On day four we went to two very different hospitals in Antigua, Guatemala. The first, Hermano Pedro Obras Sociales, was a Catholic private hospital run by the Franciscans. The surgeons who provide care at the hospital are all volunteers from the United States and Canada. They typically bring teams of clinicians with them as well as their own equipment. This hospital, while run on donations alone and lacking the high tech equipment we're accustomed to in the U.S., was run amazingly well. They house over 300 permanent in-patients, of all ages with cerebral palsy and care of their daily basic needs of food, hygiene and shelter. The second hospital was government run called The National Hospital of Antigua, which sees approximately 6,000 patients per month.
On the fifth day, we traveled to San Andres Itzapa to see two clinics about 45 minutes west of Antigua, Guatemala.
The group is back from their trip, but they left a lasting impression on the communities and people they helped.
See a slide show from the trip: