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Hospital de la Familia – Maria Martin, MD

Written by Maria Martin, MD, PGY-4 at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Obstetrics & Gynecology Program while on Global Health rotation at Hospital de la Familia in Nuevo Progreso, Guatemala in March-April 2017.

My trip to Nuevo Progreso in Guatemala with Hospital de la Familia was amazing! I could not have asked for a more inspirational and fulfilling global health experience. The team of doctors, nurses, translators and staff was exemplary. Everyone worked cohesively to evaluate numerous patients in clinic and perform >200 surgeries during our 6 day surgical mission. The surgical mission included Ophthlamalogy, General Surgery, Plastic Surgery, ENT and Gynecology.

Each day started with over 200 patients waiting to be evaluated by the various surgical teams. Gynecology clinic was a great opportunity to practice Spanish and evaluate patients with a variety of complaints. Patients were very grateful for the care and assistance with their medical concerns. Each clinic visit would end with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. One patient seen in clinic that was memorable was a 25-year-old woman who presented to clinic with passage of stool from her vagina. She reported having delivered her 2 children at home. After her 1st vaginal delivery at home, she went to the hospital to have a perineal repair, but was turned away and told she could not be helped. The patient on exam had a cloacal defect, which is a connection between the vagina and the rectum that can result from a non-repaired 4th degree perineal laceration. We were able to perform her surgery and repair her perineum. She was so grateful for her care and surgery, which was life-changing for this young woman.

The operating room was a unique environment where a team mentality was in full effect. We had 4 beds in 1 operating room. Scrub nurses, doctors and local staff were all working together to provide the best medical and surgical care for each patient. Days in the OR would be long, usually 12-14 hours, and often end at 7 pm. Surgeons would scrub in to be an assistant or would be the circulator in the OR to help keep the flow of surgical cases. Your credentials were second to helping each other and prioritizing patient care.

Working at Hospital de la Familia was a life changing experience. It truly felt like a family. I look forward to hopefully returning again in the future and continuing to participate in the medical care of this wonderful community.

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