One of the most exciting days of the trip is clinic day! With the travelling and (most of) the setup behind us, today is the day that the doctors start screening potential patients and meeting those who need help. Every year the amount of those that come needing help dwarfs the team’s bandwidth which reinforces the need for the mission and drives the team to perform more and more surgeries every year. Last year, a total of 42 surgeries were completed over 5 days; this pace is similar to what can be achieved by surgeons in a Canadian hospitals. Considering the general lack of access to the same established infrastructure and staff here in Ecuador, that pace is impressive. However, it is important not to emphasize number of patients treated over the care, attention and safety that must be given to each person that is seen.
Arriving at the clinic in the morning means wading through a crowd of people that have lined up to be seen that day. Trading quiet “Buenos Dias’s” as we slip through the crowd, the mission begins to feel very real and meaningful. Once inside, we are met with yet two more waiting rooms full of men and women of all ages. Screening begins for the day as the doctors sit down with interpreters and potential patients, examining records and x-rays that were previously taken. The flow of people begins to propagate through the stations that had been set up yesterday to handle the different parts of processing. Soon the whole building is buzzing with people, even spilling out to the courtyard in the rear of the building where anesthesiology conducts a final assessment on patients who have been selected for surgery. So far so good as the clinic team continues to work through the large line of those seeking help.