MEDICAL MISSION TRIPS
Medical trips are typically 1 or 2 weeks in duration are based at the Manos de Christo clinic in Ocosingo, Mexico. The trips are either held in the clinic or travel to a regional village where providers spend several days living with the locals in a more remote location.
ANYONE CAN GO!
Medical trips are usually comprised of a group of nurses, physicians, and non-medical volunteers. You do not need a medical background to have a meaningful experience and make a significant impact! We serve along side local Mexicans who provide missionary support and translation services as well as local midlevel providers often called “barefoot doctors” who are frequently the medical providers for their own villages. All types of physicians, nurses and medical personel are welcome and Spanish skills are helpful but not required. These trips do not require heavy physical activity.
WHO ARE THE PATIENTS
The rural people of Chiapas are largely indigenous language peoples of Mayan descent. In Ocosingo, the most common language group are the Tzeltal. The people are family oriented and you will see many families and children who travel to the clinic together. Most work in subsistence and/or farming related activities often characterized by heavy labor and most travel by foot. You will also see students, young professionals and elderly.
TYPE OF CARE PROVIDED
The access to any type of care in Chiapas is limited, especially in rural areas. Many patients have never seen a physician. Patient present with anything from simple arthritic pain, to acute infectious illness, diabetes and other chronic conditions or congenital deformities. Some patients need counseling on healthy living, spritual care or emotional support. The clinic provides well-care such as eye exams and glasses, vitamins, dental cleanings and supplies and health advice. We also provide pharmacy services, basic lab work (urinalysis and blood sugar), simple wound care, and referrals to local health department. We are not yet able to provide radiology, surgery or bloodwork. Often, the range of services we can provide depends on supplies and expertise brought by those who serve.
WHAT WILL YOU DO?
There are many ways to serve on a medical trip.
Primary Medical Provider—Typically nurses or physicians who feel comfortable running an exam room will see patients for all types of basic primary care problems. Translators (Enligh-Spanish and Spanish-Zeltal) are provided and the process is collaborative. We have had oncology nurses, school nurses, OR techs/RNs, Family physicans, orthopedists, urologists and radiologists in this role and all have made a difference.
Triage—You will help with the intake of patients, greeting them, checking basic vital signs and getting them to the most appropriate provider. This is a great way to meet people, practice your Spanish and Zeltal greetings and lay hands on the wonderful people!
Oculist—We will train you to perform vision exams and fit reading and sunglasses. This is a favorite job from past trips.
Pharmacy—A busy and vital team job between visitors and local pharmacist stocking, counting and dispensing medications prescribed by the local providers.
Lab Technician—Perform basic blood and urine testing. No previous experience required.
TYPICAL DAY ITINERARY ON A MEDICAL TRIP IN OCOSINGO(Varies)
6:30 Awake for coffee and morning devotions on the rooftop
7:00 Breakfast with the group
7:30 Begin Clinic
3:30-5:00 End Clinic (varies) Free time to rest or travel into town
7:00 Dinner with group
8:00 Recap and discussion of the day on the rooftop
TYPICAL LIVING AND WORKING CONDITIONS
Travelers should come prepared to be flexible regarding what they will do and regarding living conditions and food. Most trips will include sheltered sleeping in separate men’s and women’s bunkrooms. You may sleep on an air mattress or camping pad with sleeping bag or in a traditional Mexican hammock. The food is provided and is safe to eat. The menu is simple local fare and is usually very good. Running water is available in Ocosingo, although heated water is unpredictable.
ADDITIONAL MEDICAL TRIP RESOURCES
Typical Medical Problems in Chiapas