Three Providence Health Care staff take medical services to Guatemala
Three Providence Health Care staff from Spokane joined 44 other Providence staff to provide health care to poor people in Guatemala from Sept. 21 to 29.
They came from around the United States to provide services through a Faith in Practice short-term medical mission.
Oscar Haupt, business manager of the Providence Adult Day Center near Holy Family Hospital, Annalee Goetzman, a surgical nurse, and Darryl Duvall, a certified registered nurse anesthetist, volunteered at Hospital Hilario Galindo in Retalhuleu, Guatemala.
In 2019, Faith in Practice is offering 40 short-term mission trips to Guatemala. Each year, 1,300 medical professionals and support personnel from across the United States and the world pay their own expenses to travel to Guatemala.
Teams work beside 1,000 Guatemalan volunteers and treat more than 25,000 patients a year, people who would otherwise have no access to medical care.
Oscar, who went to translate, grew up and earned a degree in marketing in Santiago, Chile, came to the United States for further studies, including a bachelor's in psychology from Weber State University and master's in social work from the University of Utah in 1990.
He moved to Spokane in 1992, worked for seven years with Spokane Mental Health and was a social worker several years with the Providence Visiting Nurses Association, before starting as manager at the Adult Day Health Center in 2012.
Annalee, who grew up in Coeur d'Alene, went to nursing school at Boise State University and was a nurse for 13 years in Boise. She then joined a travel nurse company for a couple of assignments, spent two years at Kootenai Health in Coeur d'Alene and one year at Bonner General in Sandpoint. For the past three years, she has been a circulating nurse at the Sacred Heart Doctors Building day surgery area in Spokane.
Previously, she has helped build a Habitat for Humanity house in Tijuana with a church team and one in Coeur d'Alene during her high school years.
Darryl, who grew up in Wisconsin, trained and worked in New York City and Boston before moving to Spokane in 2014.
Providence has worked with the Faith in Practice program in Guatemala for 23 years. Retalhuleu is one of several places medical teams go. It's a remote village 120 miles southwest of Antigua, Guatemala.
"Providence encourages caregivers to participate in mission trips," said Oscar. "It also has programs in Mexico, where people go to build homes."
He said Providence facilitates these missions because of its ties to the Sisters of Providence. A group of sisters left Montreal 175 years ago on a mission to serve in Vancouver. They wound up serving in Valparaiso, Chile. Later, five sisters came on a mission to the Washington Territories and founded the Mother Joseph Province.
Annalee, who attends Community United Methodist Church in Coeur d'Alene, said that as staff of Providence Health Services, she tries to follow the mission statement, which is "to reveal God's love for all, especially the poor and vulnerable, through compassionate service."
"The mission of the Sisters of Providence was to serve where there was a need," said Oscar. "It is to serve in ministry where the need is, especially among the poor and vulnerable."
Both Oscar and Annalee learned about the opportunity on the Providence website and applied. They did not know each other previously, but met at the airport, identifying each other because they wore blue "Faith in Practice" T-shirts.
Oscar said they were on a team with physicians, nurses, nurse anesthetists, anesthesiologists, lab technicians, physical and occupational therapists, pharmacists and translators from Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California. Ten volunteers went to do wheelchair assembly.
Darryl screened patients prior to administering anesthesia in the operating room—asking about smoking history, body weight and allergies, and verifying any underlying conditions such as diabetes, lung or heart disease—to be certain they would do well in the surgery and have a safe recovery.
He then administered anesthesia to the screened patients.
"Everyone on the team was essential to be sure the patient would be safe," Oscar said.
One young man came in confident. When he saw the IV needle, he stiffened. Oscar helped him do breathing and self-hypnosis to relax.
Some nurses prepared patients for surgery, some were with them in surgery, and some were with them afterwards.
"In translating for the team, I saw the continuum of care," he said.
Annalee was impressed with how grateful patients and their families were.
They came at 6 a.m. and waited all day in a cold room in paper-thin nightgowns to be seen by the doctor and have their surgeries. They had no food or drink all day while they waited, but did not complain.
Annalee said operating rooms are cold in the U.S. and in Guatemala because the big operating room lights get hot to prevent bacterial growth.
"It is so comforting to be able to offer a warm blanket here, but this wasn't available in Guatemala," she said.
"Patients carried their own linens from the pre-op holding area to the operating room. They would lay on a cold bed with no warm blanket, and still remained grateful. No one complained," she said.
Darryl added, "I will never forget how appreciative the patients in Guatemala were for the care we were administering to them in the OR. They put their utmost trust in our hands, quite a different perspective than what we as caregivers experience in the U.S.
"I have worked in a number of different health care settings as a nurse anesthetist, but this was the most challenging and rewarding," he said.
Two girls who waited much of the day were happy after the chaplain gave them stuffed animals, said Oscar, who also translated the chaplain's prayers and blessings.
The team did 89 surgeries—such as laparoscopic hernia repairs, gall bladder removals, lipoma removals, adenoids, tonsillectomies, facial mass removals, nasal reconstructions, hysterectomies, ovarian cyst removals and bladder repairs.
They did 92 other procedures, such as wound care, physical therapy and providing much needed wheelchairs.
They also did assessments to prepare other patients for another team that would be coming two weeks later.
"We are each a piece in a chain of medical care that continues," said Oscar, who sees such mission service as a part of his faith.
He had not done such volunteer service previously, but was glad to help by translating.
"It changed my life. It really seemed to be about health care," he said.
Oscar was surprised that he was not the only one on the team who was born outside the U.S.
One surgeon, who was born in Kashmir and practices in California, spoke with families in a caring, compassionate way, giving them hope," Oscar said.
On Sunday, when they were not to do surgeries, a Korean-born surgeon saw a woman who needed surgery right away and took her into the operating room.
Others on the team were born in South Africa, Iraq, Ecuador, Uruguay and Guatemala.
"All were willing to give of their time. Each paid $1,000 for air fare and raised $1,000 for supplies needed for the surgeries," Oscar said.
"I always wanted to be involved in a medical mission, so I'm glad to be working for a hospital that supports these teams," said Annalee.
Neither Annalee nor Oscar had been on a medical mission before. Both would like to go again.
For information, visit faithinpractice.org.
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, January, 2019