Today was our first day at HEODRA, the teaching hospital in Leon. The doctors examined and treated about 38 patients, out of the 40 or so that we interviewed. Most of the patients had been referred from their local health centers because of an abnormal pap result. The patients waited quietly in the heat to be interviewed, and then had to wait again for their examination. Thankfully, some of the exam rooms were air conditioned. The PINCC nerve center also was also air conditioned. There, the volunteers attached the intake forms to the patients' charts, and input the information into the computer. Data input involved lots of data cleansing, i.e. running around asking the doctors for missing information, or interpretation of handwritten notes.
Some patients bore the signs of their difficult lives, with faces aged beyond their years. Many women have four children, but those whom I met stopped at four with a tubal ligation. The interviews identified a number of women who had been abused sexually or physically. The patient Reina returned to see Carol. Dr. Pam performed a LEEP on Reina two years ago. Reina has since given birth to her third child, a girl seven months old. Miguel, Reina's 5 year old, accompanied her to the hospital.
All in all, it was a long day. We waited until all the patients had been seen until we had the lunch that had been delivered in takeout containers.
At Carol's late afternoon meeting, the reports were of a very satisfying and successful first day. There were a few tough moments, but overall the job got done. The doctors who are being trained in IVAA, cryo, and LEEP, have some experience and performed well. Yet, they seem reluctant to ask questions. Maybe we are more intimidating than we realize.
After a dinner of veggie lasagna at the local restaurant, we will turn in early to prepare for another day of hard work, and hopefully the satisfaction of helping the doctors of Leon prevent cervical cancer among the local women.