The first day at the hospital on these mission trips is busy for all the different teams, whether audiology, surgical or art. Today was no different. As often happens, the family of the “patient,” comes to Antigua, from their village, whatever the distance. The open-aired hallways of the hospital, which are lined with chairs, end up completely filled with people, patiently waiting their turn to be screened by the surgical, audiology and/or anesthesia teams. The art team assists in making this day a little easier for everyone, by providing activities and entertainment for the children, (and even some adults), with coloring pages, stickers, pipe cleaners and beads crowns/necklaces/bracelet making, puzzles and games. And even with our struggles at time with the language, there are often great big smiles and joyful laughter that does not need any translation. One such example was the “Alligator Biting,” game, which brought loads of laughter from those playing and watching.
One of the favorite things for the art team to do is to take a photo of each child who comes to play, which is their’s to keep. From the taking of the picture, to the quick turnaround in printing, (thanks to modern technology and a portable printer, which prints in under a minute), and the giving of the photo in a paper frame to be decorated by the child, the joy we witness, not only on the child’s face, but also on their parent’s is a special compensation. Such beautiful smiles! These are moments to cherish, for many of these families, this may be the first picture of their children they have ever had, and you feel their appreciation, and often are rewarded with great big, delightful hugs!
Today’s lesson: Smiles and laughter don’t need any translation – they’re wonderfully universal!
Back to the Screening Clinic: Many individuals, from young children to elderly adults were evaluated today in the clinic. It was a non-stop morning for most team members, as one after another possible candidate for surgery or other procedures passed through the screening stages. By the end of the day over 55 patients were seen and scheduled for Urology. Between the Audiology and Ear, Nose and Throat surgery teams, numerous surgeries were scheduled to repair damaged eardrums, or nasal obstructions. When surgery was not required, Audiology scheduled them for other treatments, such as placing hearing aids. Anesthesia providers rounded out the screenings by completing the patient’s medical history work-ups, making sure everything is ready when these patients reached the operating room later in the week. The clinic day ended with our Data Collectors from Cerner logging the needs of all the patients, and developing this week’s surgery schedule. The final count – a total of 116 patients were seen today!