May 2019 Missions Trip
In late May 2019, Dr. Paul Kang led his first team trip to Roatán, Honduras. The group comprised of two technicians, Victoria and myself, a surgical scrub technician, Vanessa, a medical doctor assistant, Dr. Amy Kang, and a surgical coordinator, Nina. We were situated at a little hotel on the coast of the island, an islander’s paradise!
Just hours after we landed and settled in, our staff quickly got to work to set up the clinic and determined a routine that was most effective in seeing as many patients as efficiently as possible. We also assembled the surgical machines and organized the clinic in preparation for the days ahead.
In total, over 100 patients were screened, roughly 40 glasses were dispensed, 16 patients were operated on, and this was all accomplished over the course of four days. To top it off, the trip included a surprise water outage, a disruptive power outage, and three broken surgical beds. Even with all the mishaps, we were still able to power through!
Dr. Theresa Turla, an ophthalmologist from New Orleans, LA, and K.J., a retired nurse who resides on the island, also joined us. Dr. Turla played a critical role in examining and treating the patients in the main clinic while Dr. Kang performed surgeries in the operating room. Dr. Turla also operated on two patients. K.J. helped Victoria, Nina, and me screen patients. She was a great addition to the team and fit in quite well. We appreciate their help and could not have finished without them!
For our last day on the island, the team got in touch with a few staff members from Clinica Esperanza who were kind enough to guide us around the island and share their experiences with clinical volunteer work in Roatan. The clinic they built had everything including a pediatrics clinic, multiple rotating OB/GYN specialists, and a Diabetic Program.
We got to see two very different sides of the island that we did not have the opportunity to see during the beginning of the trip. In one area, we saw how beautiful the tourist strip was filled with shops and restaurants. In contrast, we saw people living in a dump site that has no access to clean running water. It was eye opening to see the lifestyle of the actual locals.
There is so much more work that needs to be done in Roatán, medically and environmentally. I cannot wait to return every year to do my part. This was a very successful first trip and I am so grateful I was included in this journey in providing sight to the islanders of Roatán.
It is so important for people to see what has been done and what still needs to be done in Roatán.
Health in Sight Roatán March 2020, I’m ready for you!
Synthia Nguyen, COMT