Once we began operations, we had a lively See and Treat program going. Initially Dr. Patricia Gordon conducted demonstrations and brought in Cullen Hallinan, Jessie Margolis, and Kim Borden (who are pursuing careers in medicine) and nurses as co-participants. As the morning moved on, it was exciting to see Kim, Jessie, and Cullen taking over examinations under the supervision of our nurse practitioners. By the afternoon the Guatemalan nurses felt confident enough to do the examinations — a full medical learning experience in one day!
Meet Wendita Lorena. She was just one of our Mayan patients who was extremely open to being examined by our team and seemed very grateful to be receiving free medical treatment. Pictured is Kimberly Borden with Wendita Lorena, a 30-year-old native of Coban and the mother of 5 children. She had never had a cervical exam. She had been told that she had HPV-related genital warts. She was so grateful and relieved when she tested positive with VIA (the Vinegar Test) that something could immediately be done to treat her precancerous lesions. After Kim successfully performed cryotherapy, the gratitude Wendita had was immeasurable (see photo). We learned that the alternative to See and Treat was minimally effective. At the hospital women occasionally receive Pap tests but often they fail to receive their results or they are instructed to go to Guatemala City for follow-up. Such a five hour trip is far beyond their means and rarely made because the patients cannot afford either the cost of the trip or of subsequent radiation and chemotherapy at the central hospital.
Our first day was a success with many new personnel proficient in See and Treat. Many patients were examined and relieved to be normal or treated for lesions. Most of all, Guatemalan nurses and a doctor became eager to launch a clinic at their hospital to do everything they can to save women’s lives.