Think about it. What would it be like if you could only see a doctor or a dentist one day a year? And what if seeing that doctor or dentist required you and your family to walk three days round trip through the jungle carrying all the food for the trip? Then, after that walk, you arrive at the clinic to find several hundred people already camped out waiting in line ahead of you? And when you finally see the doctor or dentist, they don’t even speak your language? Now, imagine being intensely grateful for this care because you know your child will live to his next birthday – and because you can remember when that may not have been the case. Hard to imagine? Welcome to health care in the remote region of Honduras called La Mosquitia.
For the fourth year in a row, International Health Service (IHS) deployed a combined medical/dental team to our mission base in the village of Rus Rus, Honduras from February 17 to 26, 2014. Working in partnership with our medical, missionary aviation, and pastoral staff, the fourteen member IHS team was able to utilize our hospital facility to see more patients than in any previous year, seeing over 1500 indigenous people from 18 different villages in the vicinity of the Rio Coco.
Over the course of the seven day medical/dental clinic 1522 patients were seen in total. Of those, 165 eye clinic patients received 124 reading glasses and 123 pairs of sunglasses, 299 dental patients were treated with 367 extractions, and 1098 medical clinic patients were seen with 3737 prescriptions dispensed.
Our missionary pilot and Hospital Administrator, Westley Wiles, was busy flying supplies, medicine, medical professionals, and patients between our base, other mission sites, and larger more well-equipped hospitals. A number of emergency medical evac flight were conducted and credited with saving several lives including several infants. Sadly, not every outcome was positive. One patient died in the hospital in Puerto Lempira after our evac – a young mother. This is a grim reminder of the state of health and healthcare in this region which reinforces the very great need for our presence there.
Carlos Paz, MAG’s Director of Pastoral Ministries, and volunteer Dave Pulzetti, worked with local bi-lingual villagers to interpret Miskito to Spanish, Spanish to English, and then back again so patients could communicate effectively with the medical team. Geraldina, our indigenous Head Nurse and her assistant, Janeth, worked tirelessly to organize medical records and manage the patients that overflowed the clinic for seven straight days.
We were additionally blessed to have Dr. Pearl Marcy, a second generation missionary doctor in Honduras, join our staff for this medical event. Dr. Pearl traveled to Rus Rus from her medical clinic in the mountains outside the capital of Honduras, Tegucigalpa.
Each evening after clinic closed, Carlos and Dave worked with the local pastors to preach and teach and share the Good News of Jesus Christ with the large groups of transient villagers camped at our base. Many villagers heard the Gospel for the first time, responding joyfully to the invitation to begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And right by their side, helping deliver a message of hope to those gathered, were some of the Honduran soldiers garrisoned in Rus Rus, who had received Christ just weeks before at our children’s Bible School event. Miracles were experienced, lives were touched, souls were saved, and foundations were strengthened for continued ministry that is not only changing the condition of a region medically, but more importantly, spiritually as well!