B-team arrives; clinics underway

B-team arrived on schedule, and as predicted, silliness ensued. It is a measure of their engagement that the later arrivers could not wait for a full briefing on the A-team’s accomplishments. The promise of a full disclosure at the team meeting (around 11pm) was not sufficient to defer questions (bordering on inquisition). I savor this moment, which is filled with anticipation and boundless energy. Tomorrow will be given mostly to counting and sorting pills and the tedium of logistics.

Yardley Albarracin ’13 (and veteran of half-a-dozen trips or more) needed to confirm details for some of our remote clinic sites – and wanted the opportunity to get the newest team members into Cuje before the first clinic day. We learned more than in previous years about local “mountain-to-hollow” shouting conventions and team members saved more than a few torturous trail steps by executing (probably poorly) those conventions. For me, this was the first trip back to El Mojon (uno y dos) in more than five years. In the first years of the project, the field research teams attempted to map the micro-region without the assistance of 4-wheel drive – or vehicles of any sort. That meant walking from the clinic outpost in Las Menas to eight communities spread across 50 square miles on three mountain tops. It was good to remember some of the places in the Mojons and to see them while still being able to draw.

The first of the week’s clinics was in Mojon Dos in a recently constructed cinder-block “community building.” Team members had purchased plastic tables and borrowed plastic chairs from our hotel in Ocatol to furnish the single room open space. Dr. Roger Martinez, back with us for the seventh year and veteran of approximately 10 trips, arrived from Managua on Sunday and was at his post, as usual, in the clinic. Dr. John Showalter, internal medicine doc from Knoxville, TN, returned for the third year as a volunteer medical provider and was joined by Dr. Robbie Duerr, orthopedic resident from the University of Pittsburgh). With the support of the director of the residency program (Dr. Mark Sangimino), Dr. Duerr will provide medical consultations and do broad assessment of the prospects for a partnership with the University of Pittsburg residency program that could result in significant expansion of medical resources for the micro-region. For some years now, we have been aware of the muscular-skeletal issues that we see among residents. We have been frustrated by our inability to do more than provide very, very modest pain relief. There may be extraordinary prospects for the future.