Sarah McGill, MD
Sarah McGill, MD
Gastroenterology · Pittsboro, NC

Caring Endoscopy in Atitlan, Guatemala

February 10th
Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala

Project Description

Through the Central American Outreach & Endoscopy program, I will work with a team to provide endoscopy services to Guatemalan patients who live in rural, remote areas and need gastrointestinal and liver evaluation. We will provide endoscopy services and clinic consultations and I will supervise fellows in training who are also working in the group. I have a long history of working in Central America--my first job out of college occurred in rural Panama, and I worked in Nicaragua as a medical student. I am excited to provide much-needed care to these patients in the Spanish language.

Population Served

We will serve the Mayan population in the region surrounding the Hospital Atitlan. The hospital is nonprofit and provides preventative and clinical health services, some of which is the only medical care available within a several-hour radius. The hospital provides hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of free and discounted care to patients who would not otherwise be able to afford it. The hospital does not have staff endoscopists, so endoscopy care relies on this medical mission to provide endoscopy services. Were it not for the relationship with this mission, area patients would have to travel hours away to receive endoscopic and subspecialty-GI care.

Expected Impact

The mission began in 2019 and has a continued partnership with and commitment to the hospital. The hospital does have internists who can provide continuous care for patients who have diagnoses made during the jornada, or trip. In my home state of North Carolina, I have a dedicated Spanish-language gastroenterology clinic staffed by Spanish-speaking navigators. I feel the care I give in Guatemala will help me provide more culturally competent for my patients, who are often recent migrants from Latin America.

Trip Photos & Recap

During the trip, CARE (Central American Outreach and Endoscopy) provided endoscopic care to many patients in the rural, mostly indigenous Guatemalan community of Santiago de Atitlan. I was amazed how the team worked quickly to use a single endoscopy room to care for so many patients during the one-week trip. We also saw patients in the clinic with concerning GI symptoms and chronic GI conditions and provided clinical care. It was incredible to be able to give back to these amazing people in this way.