Douglas Demo, RN-Overlook Medical Center

Guatemala: October 2013

 On October 19-27, 2013 I traveled to San Raymundo, Guatemala with Refuge International as part of their medical mission program to provide primary care, dental care, and surgical services to the local indigenous population. Over the course of 5 days we treated over 700 patients in the clinic, 120 patients in the dental clinic and performed 49 surgeries, including cholecystectomies, hysterectomies, hernia repairs, a below-the-knee amputation and several orthopedic procedures. The team included RNs, NPs, CRNAs, midwives, surgeons and pharmacy students. It was amazing to accomplish so much with such limited resources.

 Although my nursing background is in bedside medical-surgical nursing, my skills were needed elsewhere for this trip. After a crash course in operating room protocol, I was assigned to the role of circulating nurse to assist with preparing patients for surgery, coordinating the use of laparoscopic equipment, assisting surgeons with supplies, and sending patients to post-op/recovery. My Spanish skills were utilized in the peri-operative area as I doubled as a translator for the anesthesia team.

 I greatly appreciate the financial support from the Ben Josephson Fund for this medical mission. We traveled to Guatemala to use our medical skills, which we often take for granted, but we left with greater cultural awareness, renewed enthusiasm for our work, special memories and new friends.