Brigade Update: VCU

Between June 11 and 22, a medical brigade from Virginia Commonwealth University joined Shoulder to Shoulder in the Pinares area of San Marcos de la Sierra. Since 2006, VCU has regularly visited this area. They visit three times annually, and generally include medical students, family medicine residents, and family medicine faculty. Over the years, they have brought dentists, sociologists, pharmacists, nurses, public health workers, and interpreters with them.
For two weeks, this group of physicians, medical students, pharmacists and PharmD candidates, MPH candidates, nurses, a paramedic, and student-translators from the bilingual school in La Ceiba engaged the community in the established Children’s Health Initiative (CHI) at local schools and treated patients at the Pinares clinic. The brigade also took in the U.S.A.-Honduras World Cup qualifer event, crowding into a small pulperia with most of the local community to watch the game. Aside from a few bruised egos, the American win did not cause any international incidents.
Every day, the brigade split into two teams. One group treated patients at the Pinares clinic, treating farming injuries, providing prenatal check-ups, pregnancy exams, and more. The CHI group hiked to a different school each day and set up health stations to address all areas of the children’s health. These included measuring height and weight, taking their hemoglobin, eye exams, fluoride rinses, and visits with physicians.
During one home visit, the brigade examined a 31-year-old patient who had been experiencing abdominal pain. The man had not eaten or drank anything for over a day, and hadn’t moved in two days. Entering the darkened home, the brigade was greeted by a prayer group who had been standing vigil over the sick man all day. The brigade members evaluated the man and determined he needed hospital treatment. As a team, the brigade carried the patient up the steep slopes to the road and drove him to the hospital.
The Pinares and outer communities in San Marcos de la Sierra are very remote and mountainous. Away from the main road to La Esperanza, many locals must walk for hours to receive medical attention. VCU’s CHI group enabled them to evaluate and treat a large volume of geographically diverse group of needy children in the schools. Throughout the year, Shoulder to Shoulder’s health promoters and home health medical teams visit these remote communities and homes to ensure that children, elderly, pregnant, and high-risk patients are receiving the attention they deserve.
Thank you to VCU for your tremendous team effort and support of the Pinares and San Marcos de la Sierra communities!