This year we begin work on Valentine’s Day. Here they call it el día de San Valentín, also called el día del amor y de la amistad, the day of love and friendship.
While in Ecuador we split up into two very different teams: the family medical clinic, which travels each day by van or bus or truck out to small villages; and the surgical team, which stays in the city (this year Cayambe, a small city of 30,000) and works in the same hospital each day. More about them in another post.
Today I’ll post a few photos of family medical clinics from previous years. We usually stay within an hour or so of our host city, but sometimes go out (or UP) to more remote villages, and even stay overnight in some. Normally we hit a different village each day and so we get to see a lot of this gorgeous country. The poor surgical team only enjoys the same streets on the way to work each day and the same fluorescent lights inside the hospital. But they make up for it on the weekend.
Our family clinics provide treatment for much of the same things we see here in the States: chronic aches and pains, age-related problems, infections, skin care, small wounds, minor lumps, well-baby check-ups, gynecological care. Some years we have a dentist or an optometrist, but not this year. And if we see anything that could use surgery, we refer the patient to our surgical team. Much of what we do is repetitive, which makes it easier for translators like me who don’t have medical training.
We set up shop each day, either in a small under-utilized clinic, or a church building, or a school, or a gymnasium or other public meeting place. Sometimes we’ll do a home-visit for an elderly patient. The Ecuadorian communities that host us go out of their way to provide us with space, with chairs and tables, and often with a large meal at noon. And we find that the smaller and poorer the community, the more lavish their hospitality.