During a weeklong medical brigade, I, along with doctors from University of Virginia, will provide high-quality endoscopic care for 60 patients in rural Guatemala near Lake Atitlan. Our combined GI experience and access to state of the art endoscopy is care they only receive in our 3-4x/year trips. We provide pathologic follow-up and are even accessible once we've returned to the states. We are studying how to operationalize colorectal cancer screening efforts using stool-based testing to make our intervention the most effective. We are studying the epidemiology of GI disease in the region and are also working to bring pediatric coverage.
Rural Central America has absolutely no regular access to gastroenterologic care and furthermore no endoscopic access. We have been coming to this area over the last several years and by integrating participants from 3 universities (University of Virgnia, University of North Carolina and Medical University of South Carolina) we are ensuring durable and continuous provision of services to this area. Olympus Corporation was generous enough to donate the capital equipment that allow this trip to happen. We bring sustainable scope cleansing equipment to provide safe disinfection.
We have endoscopy every day x 4 days (15 patients per day) as well as clinic each day with between 5-10 patients. We also bring donated supplies and engage in teaching lectures about common diarrheal illness and treatment plans. We are incorporating medical residents and gastroenterology fellows as part of a global health experience. Needs assessment will help to better inform our trips in the future.
We were able to care for more than 50 people during our week-long brigade. We also saw more than 10 clinic patients to assess their gastroenterologic needs. This doesn't even include the 12 members of our team - a joint effort from MUSC, Wake Forest and UVA - for some this was their first time out of the country. New culture, new language and new food!