Once again, the Mayan villagers welcomed the team with smiles and waves as our trucks bounced over the rutted roads as we neared the clinic. Once there, our team of two physicians, three dentists, three nurses, translators, and support people, started unloading the supplies and medication needed to make this medical/dental trip a success. Obtaining medication was a special concern for this trip since recent changes in U.S. laws forced us to change our medication sourcing, hiking our costs up considerably. Our generous donors met the need.

Through the efforts of our volunteer healthcare providers, 1,056 medical patients received care, 897 dental patients had teeth extracted, and medication was provided to all who needed it. While numbers are important, each medical/dental trip is defined by the individual patients; their stories and needs. One such story from this trip is that of an extremely ill infant who was brought to the clinic and diagnosed with a blood-borne infection. Dr. Eastman treated him for two days with injections of ceftriaxone, a potent antibiotic. As is frequently the case, the team needed to leave the clinic before the outcome of the treatment was known. You can imagine how thrilled we were last week to receive an email with a photo of the baby who had not only survived, but had regained his health. The caption read, “This is the 6-month-old baby who was very sick when you were at the clinic but now is happy, here with books from your Reach Out and Read program.”

For the first time since opening the doors of the Casa Colibrí clinic in 2008, we did not need to close the clinic when the team left at the end of the week. Our long-anticipated vision of having a full-time healthcare provider at the clinic is now a reality! Mateo graduated from nursing school in November. After demonstrating that he was quite ready to take over the job of full-time medical provider, he was officially instated as our nurse.

What a turning point! It was a special moment for the medical/dental team to realize that now, health care efforts at the Casa Colibrí clinic would not stop when they piled back into the trucks at the end of the trip. The dream of providing more follow-up care, preventive care, chronic disease care, and health education could all start to be realized now that a full-time provider would be at the clinic