From Thursday, July 20 to Friday, July 21, 2017, MEDLIFE hosted its very first mobile clinic with the Santa Monica Women's Penitentiary in Lima, Peru. The two-day clinic was focused on women's health. The first day consisted of multiple women's health-related education sessions, where a variety of topics were covered including safe sex, risks and warning signs for cervical cancer, how to perform regular self breast exams, and more! On day two of the clinic the women were offered Pap smear exams and gynecological consultations, where they were prescribed treatments for a wide range of ailments. MEDLIFE will be returning to the prison in August to deliver the Pap smear results as well as perform breast cancer screenings. 

14-12-0304MEDLIFE partered with local health professionals to host the recent mobile clinic.

14-12-0307Attendees take notes during the first educational session of the day.

14-12-0374One of the attendees expresses a concern regarding breast cancer.

14-12-0381During the clinic, brand new toothbrushes were also provided for the children of all patients.

14-12-0396MEDLIFE Nurse, Janet Ludeña demonstrates the process of a Pap smear exam.

14-12-0473The women discuss their previous knowledge of breast and cervical cancer and look for connections in what they already know.

14-12-0513Two of the educational session attendees practice performing a self breast exam.


14-12-0606MEDLIFE interns, Julia and Crystal, prepare one of the examination rooms.

14-12-0652Melissa, another MEDLIFE summer intern, mans the pharmacy station during clinic.

14-12-0664Janet and MEDLIFE intern, Brandy, take patient's background information before their consultations.

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Dr. Gustavo Arnao García found his motivation to study medicine in his father, rheumatologist and former president of the Peruvian Society of Rheumatology. This example lead Dr. Gustavo to pursue his career of medicine at the Universidad Mayor de San Marcos, the oldest university of the Americas.
 
The MEDLIFE Mobile Clinics working model is similar to what Dr. Gustavo does at the Peruvian Red Cross, a society he's been part of since 2011 and which allowed him to become an expert at attenting patients. MEDLIFE relies on local health care practitioners, like Dr. Arnao García, to engage best with the communities we work in and give volunteers a valuable learning experience.
 IMG 3671Dr. Arnao García is one of several doctors who works regularly with MEDLIFE in Lima.
How long have you been working for MEDLIFE?
For almost three years. A professional colleague that used to work for the Peruvian Red Cross asked me if I was interested in working for MEDLIFE. I met the people from the NGO, did some tests, and I’ve been working for MEDLIFE since then.  
 
What experience impacted you the most when working in Mobile Clinics? Any particular case or patient? 
I had the opportunity of seeing a case of decompensated diabetes with a patient that had a very deep ulcer in his lower leg. Luckily, with the right treatment and our patient follow up system, the patient got better. This experience was very impactul for me. 
 
What do you enjoy the most in the Mobile Clinics? 
 MEDLIFE's work is completely assistance-based and requires a lot of work in the field. Basically you go to places where there's extreme poverty and help the people that live there. I feel very grateful to help MEDLIFE in their mission.

 IMG 3624Dr. Arnao García is able to connect and communicate well with patients, as well as the volunteers that assist him. On mobile clinics, he can often be seen seen giving volunteers a hands on lesson in identifying symptoms common to patients around Lima.

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1. Language Skills

     Just kidding, you don’t have to be a Language pro to come on mobile clinic trip, but it is worth it to quickly study up on key phrases! Just a few basic things will make your life a lot easier and will let you relate to and communicate with community members on clinic.

2. You will need good shoes!

     The communities we go to rarely have the normal city infrastructure you are used to like paved roads. This often meets walking around in MUD and DIRT. Don’t show up to clinic or project in flip flops.

 3. Flexibility is key.

     Our goal is to bring clinics to the poor and to meet them on their level. If we are going to meet them in their communities, we cannot possibly be in control of everything that happens. Things won’t always go as we plan or hope but we will adapt to make the best of it and deliver high quality care regardless of circumstances.

 4. Get Ready for Culture Shock.

     The places we serve are radically different from your home. Before making quick judgements based on what you see and hear, stop to consider how it might have a different meaning in the new cultural context. Think about how your actions may be interpreted differently than at home.

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 5. Bring Sunscreen.

     Most of our destinations are really close to the equator! You will get cooked quickly if you do not put on sunscreen in the morning. Pro tip: bring it with you, it is often expensive on destination!

 6. Bring Donations

     We accept donations of medicine, dental supplies and vitamins on trips, these are very appreciated in the communities! 

 7. Do some background research!

     Take some time to read up on the destination you will be visiting. You will learn and enjoy more if you have some context to understand your experiences. Read about the countries history, politics and culture.

8. Bring an open mind!

Many things are sure to surprise you on this trip. Be ready for what come your way. You are sure to learn a lot. 

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Last week brought a close to MEDLIFE´s Spring Mobile Clinic season. MEDLIFE staff and volunteers from Universities across the US and Canada worked in communities in the capital city of Lima as well as Cusco. Over the 6 weeks in Lima, a total of 4237 patients came visited a Mobile Clinic of which 1669 were children. A total of 3185 patients visited during the 3 week of clinics around Cusco as well.

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The communities visited for Mobile Clinics have limited access to health care services. Visiting with the local doctors at mobile clinics gives patients a chance to sit down and talk about any problems they are experiencing and recieve individualized attention and possibly be admited into MEDLIFE's patient follow up program.

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In addition to checkups with doctors, MEDLIFE brings gynecology and dentistry stations to Mobile Clinics. In Lima, over 500 women recieved a pap smear exam as well as over 300 in Cusco. In a addition to pap smears, MEDLIFE also provides breast exams for intial detection of breast cancer. Over 700 patients recieved an exam in Lima and over 500 in Cusco.

Dental care is often one of the immediate concerns of patients. The dentists working on clinics are able to provide immediate care and relief to patients in some situations. A total of 788 patients recieved dental care in Lima, in addition to 692.

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When children come to mobile clinics they visit a toothbrushing station to teach proper brushing techniques, allowing parents more uninterrupted time with doctors. Volunteers passed out 4722 toothbrushes to children in Lima and Cusco as well as applying fluoride to their teeth.

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One of the most imporatant aspects of Mobile Clinics is identifying patients the recieve further attention in our patient follow up program. After the clinic, MEDLIFE nurses will visit a patient in their home or accompany them appointments to assist in navigating the Peruvian healthcare system. In many cases, MEDLIFE can cover most of the cost of visits and surgeries. We will be visiting with 113 patients from Lima and 192 from Cusco in the future to create a path for recovery. Patients in the program can take anywhere from one visit to a hospital to over a year of continued communication with MEDLIFE nurses to recieve the care they need, but we are able to provide sustainable care, past intial visits, due to contributions from chapters as well as the funds raised from volunteer trips. We thank all who came to volunteer in Peru this Spring season to make these Mobile Clinics possible! 

If you are interested in joining a moible clinic in Peru, or anyother of MEDLIFE's locations, you can view future Mobile Clinics HERE.

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     Dr. Genry Aguilar has been working as a doctor on mobile clinics with MEDLIFE for two years now. He practices medicine where he grew up, in the Andean city of Cusco, Peru.

     Dr. Aguilar brings an infectious energy when he works mobile clinics. When talking with a patient, all parties are engaged, including volunteers. The conversations are in Spanish, apart from small asides in English to volunteers, yet volunteers are absorbed into Dr. Aguilar’s expressiveness and physicality when talking with patients.

     When listening to a heartbeat, he will get volunteers on the stethoscope as well and have them listen for the murmurs and irregularities. Dr. Aguilar has found a way of caring for patients needs, while also teaching volunteers about the signs he’s looking for.

Dr Aguilar decided to work in Lima this week instead of his usual base of Cusco to see other sides of Peru.

We spoke with Genry Aguilar after a clinic about his experience working with MEDLIFE: 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am Genry, I am a doctor. This is my second time working with MEDLIFE. It is my first time working in a different place like Lima, I used to work in Cusco. For me, working in MEDLIFE has been a good experience, I have learned a lot. I have met a lot of people from different countries.  

Why did you start working with MEDLIFE?

First, I have always the intention of helping those in need in any way possible. Medicine is a helping career. It is a career where we are here to resolve pain.

What value do the volunteers have in clinics?

They are very important, without them, these clinics wouldn’t be anything. They are youth with a great desire to help. It is indescribable, working with them, I have encountered a joy to help, to serve. To bear witness to the pain that often patients must endure alone, to make a child, or a person who is suffering smile. Health is the most important thing in life, along with education.

How does MEDLIFE work with the local system?

MEDLIFE works at the level of the ministry of health, the professionals are certified in this system at the same level as any Doctor that works in the Peruvian healthcare system.

What value do Mobile Clinics have for the communities?

This value, it’s not just an immediate value. The youth, who have come before, have left a big mark. When they see volunteers, the expect the best for them, from each one of them. Somone shows up, and the kids surround them. For sure, this is because of the impact of the positive impact of those who have come before. For you, it is a question of improving upon it. Make it better, so that this persists. 

 

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