Hola Cuenca! A beautiful Spanish colonial city at 2,500 meters (8,200) feet with approximately 400,000 residents.
The team has arrived and what a fantastic welcome we received. Dr. Manuel Avila, his family and Cuenca Rotarians welcomed us at the gate and lead us outside for a special surprise. The Police Band were poised and ready in full uniform and performed our national anthem! Being greeted by “O’Canada” on foreign soil made us all feel genuinely welcomed, appreciated, and inspired to do our best work during our short stay in Cuenca.
Our home (where we sleep) for the next 8 nights is Hotel Crespo, just a 10 minute walk along the Rio Tomebamba to the Santa Ines Hospital, our second home for the next week. Dr. Powell in our first team meaning reminded us of the sanctity of the work we will be doing and the privilege of looking after these less fortunate people from another country.
In addition to those 49 bags we brought from Calgary, there were 50 bags put in storage in Cuenca from last year. That is a lot of stuff moved from street level to our designated room on the second floor in the Santa Ines Hospital. It was all done, with the use of just one small cart and an old out of use stretcher piled high. Of course, there was also a lot of very heavy lifting. Thanks everyone! No workouts required for the next few days!
Within several hours, the equipment, tools and supplies were emptied and sorted. Nurses and processors were in scrubs and surgical equipment was being sterilized for tomorrow. Meanwhile, shelves were set up, stocked, and the CORE was built before our eyes. It was what you would call a true group effort, with even the docs on their knees assembling shelving and sorting meds. CORE, the headquarters for all the the basic fundamentals for the OR was successfully set up.
Tonight, we had a delicious team meal with Dr. Manuel and Mrs. Nellie Avril, Mr. Bruno Ledesma, CEO of Santa Ines Hospital, and his fifteen year old son, Bruno. We made our way back to the hotel through some foamy Carnival festivities. Tomorrow is clinic, a favorite day for many team members.