Five travelers from Wilmington, NC, arrived in Honduras for a busy week of service. Laura Vinson-Garvey, John Walsh, Cameron Trimpey-Warhaftig, Fr. Bob Kus, and Dr. John Cromer were present. Their travels took them throughout many areas of the rugged scenic mountain communities of San Francisco de Asis parish. The highlights were many, and the challenges faced by the Honduran people are many. In conjunction with our focus upon the health care needs of the people in Reitoca, we traveled to a number of small mountain communities. One trip included time at Plano del Rancho, high in the mountains where we were “flooded” with children coming from a nearby school. We brought with us many gifts to share with the children, especially many pairs of donated new flip-flops.
In the town of La Libertad, we presented a plaque to the mayor for the community’s donation to us for the use of a building for a medical clinic which we plan to open. He had previously indicated to us on a prior trip that he and the community would provide us with a building for a clinic and would help renovate it. With this in mind, we recognized him for his efforts on behalf of his community. Our recognition impacted himmarkedly. That was evident when, with tears in his eyes, he said, “I have never received a plaque or recognition like this in all of my life.”
In the town of Reitoca, where Clinica Santa Maria is present, Dr. John Cromer spent considerable time with Dr. Marco Tulio, seeing patients and discussing the clinic’s patients and their health care needs.
Together they saw many cases. One mother brought in her 16 month old daughter, “Arlita,” because she had a rash all over her body which was getting worse. Arlita was itching, scratching, and crying, and her mother did not know what to do. They had come from over an hour away and had no transportation other than walking on the rugged mountain roads. Dr. Marco and Dr. John diagnosed her with extensive Staph Impetigo, scalp seborrhea, and malnutrition. Arlita weighed 16#, about a one-third less than she should for her age. Dr. Marco treated her with antibiotics, scalp medication, and liquid vitamin supplements. Dr. Marco told Dr. John that malnutrition is very common in the patients he sees. The average child eats any kind of meat or egg protein only one time per month. Also, intestinal parasites are quite common as well. He screens patients routinely and finds 40-50 % have some type of parasite. He showed Dr. John some recent lab test results indicating that a child who had an extensive roundworm infestation had shown nearly complete clearing of the infestation after an initial treatment with medication.
Dr. John was very impressed with Dr. Marco’s and the medical staff’s thoroughness, care and concern, and capable clinical skills. Dr. John learned from the patients that many came long distances to get treatment by Dr. Marco and his staff.
They travel these distances, many times walking, because they know that he is a good physician and that he and the staff “take time to listen to us about our medical problems.” They say that his reputation as an excellent doctor has spread throughout the region. As a result, he sees more than 600 patients each month, and the demand continues to grow.
On this trip, we had with us a freshman pre-med UNC-Chapel Hill student, Cameron Trimpey-Warhaftig.
Cam studied Spanish throughout high school and speaks and understands Spanish well and is also majoring in Spanish as well as psychology in college. He was touched by many experiences while in Honduras, seeing the great need for health care services, adequate nutrition, clean water, good sanitation, and other needs. He hopes to return to the area to help Dr. Marco conduct a study to assess the psychological and emotional needs of the patient population he cares for and what would be useful and practical ways of providing support to them.