Monday, February 20, 2012

Well, that's a Wrap!

If you've been following the dental caper, you will know that during most of our clinical days we were operating at less than 100% as we awaited the portable patient chair and overhead light. These both arrived with Jaclyn and that is a story in itself. In both the San Antonio Palopo and Santa Catarina Palopo clinics we used a borrowed "birthing" bed as our patient chair, and the only light we had was the headlamp attached to my loops. One has to learn to be adaptable when working in the field.

The addition of the chair and light were a godsend indeed as we were then able to function like a truly complete dental office.  Both ease and efficiency were increased exponentially and exceeded all my expectations.  We would like to extend our heartfelt appreciation to both Rotary Clubs of Oak Bay and Nelson, who so generously provided all the essential components.  And to "Aseptico", the company who created the portable dental clinic and who provided ongoing technical support. We spent approximately 3 weeks in each village providing dental services that ranged from cleanings to fillings to extractions, with many of the extractions requiring challenging surgical procedures.  We managed all this without the aid of X-ray, but are hoping to find a way to fundraise to purchase a portable digital X-ray that can be connected to a laptop and provide essential pictures. 

This year we decided to provide all services to children at no fee and to charge adults 10 Quetzales ($1.25) for fillings, with surgeries and cleanings free.  One of the challenges we face is the overwhelming need for our services; hopefully we can attract other dentists to join us in this essential service in years to come. 

The educational component is about to begin as Jaclyn and a local woman, Ursula (who also assisted us), visit the schools with a variety of teaching aids.  

In order to further teach the value of dental health and services we are considering charging a fee of 10 Q next year for all services, including children.  We are convinced that "giving things away" does not lead to "responsibility" which is our ultimate goal. Knowing what I know about the implications of dental health on whole health, I am deeply satisfied with the work we did in these villages, in particular, the surgery rendered to remove chronically infected teeth. We witnessed things that most dentists in Canada never see and while ours was a basic and simple approach, it was most fulfilling and health promoting.

Tricia has been indefatigable in her compilation of treatment data which will provide an valuable historical reference and I am deeply grateful for her organizational skills and attention to detail.  Ursula was invaluable not only as a translator into the local dialect of Kaqchiquel but also for her willingness to step in as a chairside assistant. Jaclyn was our "go to gal" when we needed supplies during our clinical days; and a late addition, Dianne, a nurse from Victoria, provided compassion and help wherever required.  Not enough can be said about the inestimable contribution of Maria, a certified dental assistant from Victoria, without whose direction and expertise none of this could have come together as well as it did.  I am especially grateful to her for making my job so much less stressful. ICO, our parent support organization, has been totally helpful in all regards, including fundraising, and we are all indebted to the many volunteers behind the scenes for making this opportunity available to us.  Mil gracias a todo!

And to you the reader, a special expression of gratitude for your prayers and your financial support so that we can continue to be of "service above self".
Juan Jose

1 comment:

  1. hi John and other who are doing such a great work,
    Makes me realize how lucky I have been to have been part of your dental team in Nelson and to count you as such a good friend to Jim and I..stop in to see us in Kelowna on your way thru to Nelson..we leave AZ. On Tuesday..and back to BC by April 15...
    love and blessings,